In response to reports of human right abuses in the state, Kogi State Government, has inaugurated 10-man Human Rights Special Intervention Group (HRSIG) committee, to enable victims have access to justice.
The Director General, Office of the Public Defender and Citizens Rights Commission (PDCRC) in Kogi, Abdullahi Zakari, who inaugurated the committee in Lokoja, noted that the inauguration was against the persistence violations of the rights of Kogi residents and the inability of the vulnerables to access justice.
According to Zakari, the committee inauguration is a timely response by the pro youth and pro poor Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to ensuring that human rights of residents and citizens of the state is secured.
He explained that due to the #EndSars protest, the governor identified with the youth and promised to set up a special Committee to handle the brutality of the law enforcement officers, which culminated this inauguration.
He noted that the committee members were drawn relevant agencies based on their track records, and urged them to consider their service as to God and humanity.
He enjoined them to respond to issues of domestic violence and abuses directly arises from Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution and all other issues pertaining to violation of the fundamental human rights of residents in the state.
He added that the committee would respond to illegal arrest and detention by law enforcement officers, and submit monthly report to PDCRC; and to carry out assignments that may be assigned from time to time by the commission.
He noted that the committee was constituted on the instruction of the governor to operate under the Office of the PDCRC.
He added that PDCRC was established on June 3, 2019 to respond to needs of access to justice by indigents and ensuring the protection of their human rights.
Zakari explained that the Commission’s mandate is to provide legal services for those who could not afford the cost of hiring lawyers , and to protect citizenry against the brutality and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies.
Hecommended the governor for his quick response to the yearnings of the populace as he undertook sweeping reforms of the criminal justice system.
He noted that the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice Hon.Ibrahim Sani Mohammed SAN, had been in the forefront of many great reforms in Criminal Justice sector.
He added: ”It is one of the reforms of the attorney general that led to the establishment of PDCRC.
”Kogi State is one of the very few states that has PDCRC to response to the need of access to justice as a critical function of Government.
”The law is to address among other things; the delay in dispensation of cases, provide legal representation for those who couldn’t afford the services of lawyers while being interrogated by law enforcement officers”.
He applauded the governor for his concern for the lawyers who he said were enjoying special salaries like their counterparts in the Magistrates in the State.
He disclosed that the Commission plays roles akin to Legal Aid Council, and the National Human rights Commission. Presently, the Commission is staffed by 12 law officers posted from the Chambers of the Hon Attorney General.
On his part, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Commission, Muizideen Abdullahi charged members of the HRSIG to stand up to the challenges, to treat the assignment with all the attention it deserved, saying, it was a call to service to serve humanity.
He commended the Governor, for being proactive in responding to the ongoing protest on EndSARS before it degenerates into lawlessness, while assuring the members of the committee of Government’s support to enable its succeed.
Members of the committee include: I.O. Alhassan, Chairman; Isaac Adeiza, Secretary. Other members were Iye Adama, DSC Atodo Adama , Asp Mohammed Bala.; M.M Nuhu, Debora Ebiloma and Olarenwaju Atoto.
The members of the Committee are drawn from The Police, DSS, Civil Defence Corps, National Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Justice, NBA, and Office of PDCRC.
In his acceptance speech, the Committee Chairman, Ibrahim Alhassan who doubles as the Vice Chairman of NBA Lokoja branch, assured of his commitment to ensuring the delivery of the mandate to the best of their abilities.
In their separate remarks, representatives of the Attorney General of the State, Police, ActionAid , DSS, NSCDC, NHRC, FIDA commended the Government for the initiative, assuring their readiness to support the course of Justice.
They charged members to exhibit highest character in the discharge of their mandate.