…Advocates non-custodial sentencing to reduce prison congestion
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
The International Human Rights Commission, IHRC, on Wednesday, asked the Federal Government to initiate talks with separatist groups and other agitators towards ending the spate of violence and other crimes across the country.
IHRC’s Head of Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria, Dr Hezekiah Duru, also said at a press conference held in Abuja to mark the 2022 World Peace Day, that the unabated security challenges in the country were linked to poverty and economic hardships
He asked the Federal Government to dialogue with the Indigenous People of Biafra, the Yoruba nation agitators, and other non-state actors with a view to uncovering the sociological issues at the roots of their restiveness.
He said, “This platform is an avenue that would enable us to dialogue with the government. We need to understand why people are carrying arms. It could be because the economy is bad.
“Our youth must drop their guns and come for dialogue. We, at the IHRC, don’t believe in protest or crisis. We believe in negotiations and dialogue.
“So our youths, whether from the north, east or west, we must dialogue to find solutions to the insecurity. Most the people who do these killings are not educated and have no jobs.
“The insecurity issue in Nigeria is like talking about a sickness; we need to get to the root of that sickness. There is a root cause of this banditry. What do they really want? What is their motive?
“The truth is that motives differ. If you come to the southeast, we have the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and we know what they want even though what we think they want is beyond what we are seeing now.
“In the southeast, there is no sit-at-home on Monday, but yet people don’t go to work on Monday. That means there is something fundamental that we need to know.
“I believe that my coming on board as diplomatic head of IHRC will give us an avenue and ample opportunity to reach out to those carrying guns to see how they can drop their guns.
“Lets us reason together and engage the government. We can even start from the east.”.
Hezekiah also expressed concern over the exodus of Nigerian youths to oversee countries, stating that a state of emergency needs to be declared to tackle the menace.
Earlier in his presentation, the Head of IHRC African Diplomatic Missions, Dr. Friday Sani, linked the recent attacks on prisons across the country to congestion.
He, therefore, stressed the need for the country’s justice system to embrace non-custodial measures which include suspended sentences, community service, and fines, among others.
“The non-custodial sentencing introduced by the former Chief Judge of the FCT, Justice Ishaq Bello, is no longer being respected that is why the prison that has facilities for 50 inmates is now accommodating 500 people.
“This is also why our prisons have become vulnerable to attacks. If we have a justice system that is proactive, all the violence in the country shall become history,” Sani stated.
He added that the organisation would be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties to ensure that the 2023 elections is conducted in a peaceful environment.