Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, CURE-Nigeria, has commended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onoghen, on his recent directive to all the Chief Justices in the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT, to mandate magistrates to visit places of detention under their jurisdictions, to access human rights situation and conditions of detention, as well as enhance access to justice by detainees.
The Non-Governmental Organisation, however, called on the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to ask the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, and heads of other detaining agencies, besides, Nigerian Prisons Service to make public, the number of people in their cells and how long they have been there, a demand he said is within the right of Nigerians.
Reacting to the directive, the CURE-Nigeria’s Chief Executive, Mr. Sylvester Uhaa described the directive, as though belated, but crucial, critical and necessary in our collective efforts to achieve effective and efficient administration of justice, respect for the rule of law and due process, as well as protect human rights and dignity of Nigerians, especially the poor.
Mr. Uhaa said that the CJN’s concern over cases of torture and human rights abuses in courts confirms his fears that the human rights situation in Nigeria is deteriorating.
He said, “The only good news is that more and more Nigerians are becoming aware of their rights and the steps they can take to seek redress when their rights are violated.
“We urge the Chief Judges and the magistrates to comply with this directive.”
The Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, Chief Executive Officer also admonished the judicial officials to embark on such visits unannounced and in company of NGOs and the media.
This, he said will help open up places of detention to public scrutiny.
According to him, the current situation whereby police cells and other detention facilities are inaccessible to public scrutiny, to the extent that no one knows the number of people in police cells and other detention centers, besides prisons, gives room for abuse and exploitation of suspects by some law enforcement officers without accountability.