By Ikechukwu Odu
No fewer than 20 youths were yesterday trained on various ways of defending human rights violations and abuses by some security agencies in the country.
The youths, drawn from the 17 local government areas of Enugu State, were also trained on proper methods of accessing justice in the event of human rights violations and abuses.
The training was held at Nike Lake Hotel on Saturday.
The training was organised by the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics (CSAAE) in collaboration with Youth Empowerment Solutions Project Initiative (YES-P), and the Centre for Health Education and Vulnerable Support (CHEVS) and powered by VOICE.
Speaking during the event, the state’s commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon. Manfred Nzekwe, challenged the youths to speak up and resist violations of their human rights by security agencies.
Hon. Nzekwe, represented by the Director, Administration and Human Resource of the Ministry, Mr. Sunny Okafor, noted that the future of the country lies in the hands of young Nigerians.
“Remember, all these ills in the society: human rights violations, criminal activities, almost all of them are carried out by the youths. The youths can change the structure of things. They can be agents of change especially in this present condition of Nigeria.
“So, I appeal to the Nigerian youths, this whole ball is in your hands. If you want to change this country, you can do it, and I believe you can do it. So, don’t sit, my friends. If you have been told that you are the leaders of tomorrow, work for it. It cannot come to you,” he said.
In a chat with journalists shortly after the event, the founder of CSAAE, Rev. Fr. Godswill Agbagwa, said he decided to hold the training because of his concern for police brutality on young Nigerians.
Rev. Fr. Agbagwa, condemned alleged illegal detention of young people by security agencies on trumped up allegations without court trial, noting that the judicial system in the country has been unfair to the Nigerian youths.
“I am very concerned about the way young people are treated in this country, especially by the police. With the recent EndSARS protest, we think that it is time to start speaking up for the young people against police brutality.
“I have gotten a lot of complaints by young people who have been arrested illegally by the police and detained for several months or years at the detention centres without trial,” Fr. Agbagwa said.
The catholic priest regretted that the incidence of police brutality is prevalent in South-east region of the country where the security agencies allegedly take advantage of the insecurity in the region to label young people, “unknown gunmen” and IPOB members.”
He said the Centre was interfacing with lawyers, police officers and also engaging court judges to “look into the records” of young people who were unjustly detained at different detention facilities in the region and effecting speedy judgement for others who were justly detained.
“I do hope that through this project, many young people in the South-east will be set free. Hopefully, after this one, we can extend this work to other parts of the country,” he added.
Elijah Nwolisa, one of the participants, described the exercise as “very insightful.”
He said he was delighted to be trained on human rights violations and the proper response in the face of police brutality and abuse.
Other dignitaries who addressed the youths at the event include, the state Director, Public Affairs Unit of the National Human Rights Commission, Valentine Madubuko, represented by his Assistant, Iheukwumere Eze, and the Vice Chairman of Aba Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Victor Onweremadu, among others.