February 23, 2023

Social Justice Day: Injustice, cause of Nigeria’s problem — Amnesty Int’l

Amnesty International

•Says injustice unaddressed affects human rights

•Condemns IPOB’s declaration of sit-at-home order

•Expresses optimism over INEC’s readiness to conduct elections

By Gabriel Ewepu

AS Nigeria joins other countries to commemorate 2023 Social Justice Day, Amnesty International Nigeria, AIN, yesterday, asserted that injustice remained the root cause of Nigeria’s problems.

Chairman Bof the oard of Trustees, AIN, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, made the assertion at the commemoration of the World Social Justice Day 2023 and farewell in honour of the Country Director, Osai Ojigho.

Rafsanjani maintained that injustice had remained the root cause of most problems Nigeria and Nigerians over the years.

He said: “Injustice is a fundamental challenge that is affecting everything in the country. As a result of injustice, there is inequality, grand corruption, conflict and violence, many Nigerians are in absolute poverty, many Nigerians have no job, children of people cannot go to school, hospitals and medical care are not affordable.

“So injustice is a word that is surrounded with problems that we are facing because if there is justice and fairness, things will be resolved amicably and everyone will have his or her right being protected but injustice means that you have no right.

”Somebody can brutalize a citizen and if he or she goes to police station, he or she is extorted and if he or she says no to corruption, the person is shot. Someone just abused their right and if he or she protests against it, the person is bundled into a cell or prison, or if he or she simply criticizes wrong policies, somebody will bundle him or her into prison.”

Speaking further, Rafsanjani said injustice, if left unaddressed, would affect human rights.

He added:  “So injustice is a major fundamental problem that we are facing in Nigeria, and we have to address it because without addressing injustice, you cannot address issues of human rights.

“Social justice in Nigeria has continued to be a major dominant feature of human rights abuses or violation. Therefore, in Nigeria, as a result of the social injustice, all those problems that we have enumerated continue to manifest, dominate governance, and even relationship between individual and community, groups and government.

“So until we are able to deal with issues of social justice in this country, it will be difficult for Nigerians to realize their potential to compete favourably, participate in governance process in Nigeria because as a lot of injustice some Nigerians cannot even contest election, peacefully go out and vote because some people who want to terminate their lives as they threaten them.”

However, he expressed concern that with the recent threat allegedly issued by the Independent Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, there might be voter apathy during Saturday’s presidential polls.

“We just got threats from some groups saying that they have declared about a three- day lockdown that nobody should go out and vote during the election. That is not fair.

“They have their right to refuse to participate in the election but do not stop other people who are interested in participating. So both non-state actors and the state actors continue to perpetuate injustice in Nigeria, and we need to realize that that is a breach of the fundamental right of the people,” he said.

On the issue of voter apathy during the 2023 general elections, starting with the presidential election on Saturday, February 25, he accused the government of creating the atmosphere for that.

“It is very clear that the government had also created conditions for some people to stay away from the election. First, non-state actors, particularly the IPOB, who have declared that for three days there will be total lockdown in the South East and a lot of people will be afraid to go and participate in the election because they are afraid.

”They will maybe kill or they may be brutalized.  So clearly, there might be an absence of people coming to cast their votes.

“In other parts of the country, politicians are preaching violence which is equally of great concern that those peace loving Nigerians, especially people with disability, may not be able to go to where there is violence,” he said.