NHRC, NANHRI brainstorms on the need to decriminalize petty offences in Nigeria

NHRC, NANHRI brainstorms on the need to decriminalize petty offences in Nigeria
December 03 22:16 2020 Print This Article

The issue of decriminalization of petty offences in Nigeria was the focus of discussion at a 2-Day Consultative meeting between the Network National Human Rights Commission, NHRC and the Network of African Africa National Human Right Institution, (NANHRI) which began in Abuja on Thursday.

Addressing the gathering the Executive Secretary, Barr. Tony Ojukwu Esq noted that strict adherence to the principles of the African Commission on Human and People’s right in decriminalizing petty offences in Nigeria in particular and Africa should be adhered to.

Speaking further on the Roadmap for the development of an action plan on “Decriminalization of Petty Offences in Nigeria, Barr. Tony Ojukwu Esq said regional standards contained in the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights should be a guide which member African states can use to identify and review laws that are repugnant to the rights to freedom from detention, right to equality, freedom from torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to liberty as well as the rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

According to Ojukwu, these rights are guaranteed by articles 2,3,5 and 6 of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in a charter adopted by the African Commission in 2017.

The Human right crusader further said that these rights are also guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended).

While urging member States including Nigeria to consider the use of non-custodial action as an alternative to sentencing, Ojukwu said petty offences should not attract any form of sentencing.

In his word: “It is appalling to note that petty offenders most of who are awaiting trials for offences such as being a rogue or vagabond,being idle or disorderly, loitering, begging, hawking, failure to pay debt and being a nuisance among others.

“This constitute a significant number of inmates and these contributes to the growing number of inmates in prisons custody across  the country.

“A good number of these inmates have been held in custody for over a year in flagrant violations of their human rights as guaranteed by the constitution of the  Federal republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended). He said.

Citing the constitution of the Nigeria 1999, (as amended)  “any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subset (1) (C) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time”

Ojukwu said the National Human rights commission has been a stakeholder in the country’s Criminal Justice system and will continue to push for best practices and more initiative in the system

“The national human Rights  Commission as a key stakeholder in the criminal Justice System has been involved in a number of initiatives towards reforms in the country and will continue to highlight and push for more initiatiatives and best practices in our criminal justice system”. Ojukwu stated.

The event had in attendance, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on human rights, Hon. John Dyegh, the Network of African Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), representatives of the Federal ministry of Justice, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Legal matters and human rights, Nigeria Law Reform Commission, various Civil Society Organisations and the Media.

The 2-Day event will end on Friday, 4th of December 2020.

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