FIDA Nigeria lends her voice to mark the World Day Against Human Trafficking 2019. Today serves as a prime opportunity to draw the attention of the world at large and especially Nigerians to the menace of human trafficking. It is impossible for you not to have heard the stories about the young children that are sent from their villages to live and work with their relatives and strangers in town, or the young woman that is smuggled into a foreign country in hopes of a better life, only to find out that she will have to spend the rest of her days paying for the price with her private parts. All too often the stories end like that of little ‘Ochanya’, sorrow, pain, exploitation, abuse and sometimes death.
FIDA Nigeria is definitely no stranger to these stories, we have handled too many cases and as an organisation with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women in Nigeria, we loudly lend our voice to call on all to act against human trafficking. The UNODC reports that 70% of human trafficking victims are women and girls and that 30% of human trafficking victims are children, of this, 23% are girls and 7% are boys. The exploitation of human beings is an abhorrent crime that humanity has sought to abolish since the days of the slave trade. Various international conventions, of which Nigeria is a signatory, guarantee the freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and the freedom from trafficking and exploitation.
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the ‘recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’ In Nigeria, human trafficking is specifically criminalised under the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003. Despite these provisions, human trafficking remains the second most lucrative form of organised crime in the world and the worst part is that human trafficking is a dynamic crime that often results in other crimes. For instance, if a child is trafficked and forced into a marriage, the trafficking is a crime and the forced marriage is a crime.
This year, the UN has chosen to use the day to encourage all to call government to action. FIDA Nigeria joins this move and calls the Nigerian government to action, to put greater protective and security measures in place to curtail the crime of human trafficking. State borders and national borders need to be better regulated to ensure that humans are not subject to illegal transportation and exploitation.
FIDA Nigeria however, goes a step further to call all Nigerian citizens to action. The truth is that there would be no supply if there was no demand. We all have a role to play in identifying victims and not using their services. Next time you want to get a ‘cheaper’ house help from the village, think about it and ensure that no one will be exploited in the process. It’s not just a global problem or a national problem, it is a local problem and so we all need to be conscious about the role we play.
FIDA Nigeria will continue to do all it can to fight against human trafficking and we will continue to partner with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to ensure that women and children can live in a society free from exploitation and abuse.
FIDA NIGERIA stands against all forms of trafficking humans, let’s put an end to it.
Every human being matters, respect their dignity.
Rhoda Prevail Tyoden
Country Vice President/National President
National publicity secretary
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria is disheartened by the viral video which shows Justice Elizabeth Karatu, Justice of the High Court of Kebbi State, being prevented from entering the courtroom by a staff of the Civil Defense Corps. The video is a depressing depiction of the lowly regard that is had for the law and for the judicial arm of government, in this country.
In the viral video, Justice Karatu can be heard explaining to the Corps officer that she only wanted to deliver her judgements as she still had one more day before her retirement was to take effect, to which the officer responds that he is working on instructions from management and that she should speak to them. As a result, Justice Karatu was prevented from entering the court and consequently, innocent people were denied their right to a prompt and fair trial.
In response to the video, the Commandant General of the Civil Defense Corps, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu has said that the Corps officer was only trying to prevent the court room from being vandalised, as the court room was under lock and key. It is contended that such an excuse is belittling of the Judge’s position in the court. It is worth noting that a few months ago, Justice Karatu was denied confirmation as Chief Judge of Kebbi state on allegations that her primary school certificate was altered. Alternative allegations suggest her denial was based on her religious beliefs, since she is a Christian and the people of Kebbi State are predominantly Muslim.
As is stated in the preamble of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers, “an independent, strong, respected and respectable Judiciary is indispensable for the impartial administration of Justice in a democratic State”. The treatment of the most senior judge in the state, a day before her retirement, highlights a lack of respect and regard for her position as judicial officer of the state. The saga surrounding the denial of Justice Karatu’s appointment, coupled with the embarrassing treatment depicted in the video point to the larger issue of the denigration of the judiciary in Nigeria. The viral video just throws light on how the integrity and high status on the third arm of government is being ridiculed.
As an organisation with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children, FIDA Nigeria further contends that the treatment of Justice Karatu also points to the marginalisation and discrimination against women which is evident in various spheres of the Nigerian society. Unfortunately, the courts of justice are not even exempt from this. From female judges like Justice Nyako being divested of cases as a result of their husbands trials, to female judges like Justice Karatu who are hardhanded out of office, reports suggest that the treatment of female judges has been discriminatory. FIDA Nigeria uses this opportunity to call for an end to the discriminatory and disrespectful treatment meted out on Justice Karatu and other female judges in Nigeria.
FIDA Nigeria joins the Nigerian Bar Association in calling for an end to the intimidation and harassment of judicial officers all over the country and for further investigations to be made into the incident.
RHODA PREVAIL TYODEN
COUNTRY VICE PRESIDENT/NATIONAL PRESIDENT
NATIONAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria vehemently condemns the physical assault and verbal abuse meted out by Senator Elijah Cliff Abbo on an innocent woman, and his undignified use of his police orderly in an Abuja Sex Toy Shop. As an organization with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children in Nigeria, FIDA Nigeria cannot sit by idly while innocent women’s right to humane and dignified treatment are infringed upon. It is especially disheartening when the perpetrator of the abuse is a government official and is supposed to be a public servant.
FIDA Nigeria condemns this outlandish act of violence exhibited by a Federal Government official in a public place and call for justice to be served. We demand that Senator Elijah Abbo be held legally accountable for the violations he is responsible for. In the viral video, Senator Abbo can be seen violating numerous provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015. This includes Section 2, by inflicting physical injury on another, after he slapped the woman multiple times, dragged her by her head and pushed her into a wooden shelf. Section 4, by wilfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, after he asked his Police orderly to carry the woman away and he warned another woman to be careful or he would slap her too. Section 10, by depriving the woman of her liberty after his Police orderly acceded, and forcefully dragged the woman out of the shop. Section 14 and 18 by inflicting emotional, verbal and psychological abuse of the two women with his insults and aggressive shouting.
The Senator’s behaviour also violates the fundamental rights of the women guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria. The lawmaker can also be seen violating many ethics and codes of conduct expected of public officials. Furthermore, the Senator showed a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the Nigerian Police Force by belittling his orderly to a private warrior. The Senator’s behaviour is not only a crime, it is also unconstitutional and uncouth. As the youngest senator in office, this is a very poor representation of the potential of youth leadership. True leaders do not exhibit the sort of behaviour that Senator Elijah Abbo can be seen displaying in the video.
A lawmaker should not be seen violating the law so blatantly in a public place. Respect to Rule of Law and the protection of the fundamental rights of the citizenry is the foundation of any democratic society, and so this issue must be dealt with in accordance with the Rule of Law, and with due regard for fundamental Rights. A lawmaker should not be seen to be acting above the law and fostering the culture of impunity. FIDA Nigeria calls on the Nigerian Police and the Senate to ensure that all violators of the rights of these women are held accountable. No man is above the law.
FIDA Nigeria demands forthwith for a Public Apology by Senator Elijah Abbo to the woman and all Nigerians for his abhorrent behaviour and for compensation for the woman and payment of all bills incurred as a result of the incident.
FIDA Nigeria calls on the Police to arrest and fully prosecute all liable and to ensure that the rights of the Nigerian citizenry are truly preserved and protected.
FIDA Nigeria furthermore calls on the Senate to likewise condemn the action of it’s erring member, and to look into the matter and ensure that having erred he is adequately disciplined having breached code of conduct rules thereby preserving the integrity of the Senate.
FIDA NIGERIA pledges to support these women who have been violated, we pledge that we shall use all legal measures to continue to protect the rights of all Women and children.
We demand justice for these women.
RHODA PREVAIL TYODEN
COUNTRY VICE PRESIDENT/NATIONAL PRESIDENT
NATIONAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY
By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. Each year, individuals, communities and various organisations all over the world use the day to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society and to mobilise political will and resources to address the menace.
FIDA Nigeria lends her voice to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2019. As an organisation of women lawyers with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children in Nigeria, this year’s theme particularly stood out to us. The theme is ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health’ and as the UN outlined, this theme highlights that health and justice are two sides of the same coin when it comes to addressing drug problems and tackling illicit trafficking. Drug abuse and illicit trafficking were once seen as marginal factors affecting development in society, but the UN now classifies this menace as a ‘disturbing obstruction to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’, particularly Goals 3 on health and Goal 16 on peaceful societies.
This reclassification is hard to contest. In February 2019, a National Drug Use Survey was released by the United Nation Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), funded by European Union (EU) in partnership with the Federal Government. The survey revealed that the prevalence of drug use in Nigeria in 2018 was more than twice the global average of 5.6 per cent, adding that the extent of drug use in Nigeria is comparatively high. The survey estimated that there are around 14.3 million drug users in Nigeria and that one in four drug users are women. This means that there are approximately 3.6 million women in Nigeria that are drug users.
FIDA Nigeria has observed with great distress the increasing actives of drug traffickers and the increased use and abuse of drugs in the country. The effects of drug abuse and illicit trafficking are far reaching and the negative impact on individuals, families and society as a whole is multifold. In Nigeria today, it is taking a frightening dimension and taking a major toll on our communities.
Many families are battling and contending with drug addicts, some have quit schools and work, dysfunctional homes, some are on the verge of lunacy or battling with acute diseases. Drug abuse leads to the deterioration of an individual’s relationships, finances and health. From a health perspective, abuse can lead to diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, stroke etc, and also mental health problems such as depression, paranoia, hallucination, brain damage etc. Drug abuse can be fatal and this leads to a loss of valuable people in society.
From a legal perspective, abuse has dire consequences on the individuals involved in the drug trade and on the community and the criminal justice system as a whole. Communities that are rife with drug abuse and illicit trafficking, tend to also suffer from an increase in crime and other delinquent behaviours that threaten the safety, security and wellbeing of the community.
The international community thus uses this day to shine a light on the preventable crisis that is drug abuse and on the global quest to advance successful responses to the crisis. In Nigeria, health responses are limited and most centres do not provide the necessary counselling and treatment services to drug users which in turn exacerbates the health crisis that is drug dependency. Reports also indicate that some dependents are shackled like animals in rehabilitation centres across the country, resulting in further physical and psychological damage.
Legal responses on the other hand are excessively punitive on drug users and amiss on drug traffickers. For responses to be successful, holistic approaches and integrated solutions are needed. Integrated solutions are only possible when fair and humane institutions of criminal justice, health and social services work hand in hand.
Since the late 1990s, numerous United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolutions have acknowledged that ‘countering the world drug problem’ must be carried out ‘in full conformity’ with ‘all human rights and fundamental freedoms’. International standards stress the importance of providing alternatives to imprisonment for people with drug use disorders and promote rehabilitation over punishment.
FIDA Nigeria calls on all to recognise and properly address the growing menace of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in society. The Federal Government must realise that rather than treating those who have been exploited as criminals and overburdening our prisons, more should be done to rehabilitate the individual and reintegrate them into society.
The Federal Government should adhere to the International human rights standards it has ratified and mainstream a gender and age perspective into drug related policies, since women and children are especially vulnerable to exploitation in the illicit drug trade. Legal age restrictions on existing drug-related health services should be reviewed and accessible drug dependence treatment and harm reduction services should be provided.
Finally, the Federal Government must prioritise and address the root causes of involvement in the drug trade, including poverty and social marginalisation. This is a matter of urgency and FIDA Nigeria calls on the government and all relevant agencies come with up with a pragmatic and holistic approach to tackle this menace that has bedevilled our country… We also call on Non-governmental organisations, international organisations, parents, religious bodies, traditional rulers, heads of schools at various levels (primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) and the entire community to wake up and fight to save our children especially from the tragedy of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
Let us remember that the youth population is the fulcrum of our national development. Let us say NO to DRUGs for Health is Justice and Justice is Health.
RHODA PREVAIL TYODEN
COUNTRY VICE PRESIDENT/NATIONAL PRESIDENT
NATIONAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY
FIDA Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Health Day today. In order to mark this day, FIDA Nigeria conducted a Vox Pop interview on the streets of Abuja in an effort to test citizens awareness of their rights, especially those contained in the National Health Act.
The interviews were conducted at the Ministry of Health, Wuse II and UTC Market. Due to high levels of bureaucracy, the staff of the Ministry were very reluctant to be interviewed without approval from their bosses. However those that were interviewed showed low levels of awareness of World Health Day and Universal Health Coverage.
FIDA Nigeria will be utilising our Youtube channel and social media platforms to sensitise the Nigerian citizenry about relevant laws. With the dawn of social media and the move towards technology, media has become one of the greatest tools to effect change.
Hope you enjoy the video.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019. As an organisation with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children in Nigeria, March 8th is always a special day for us. We proudly add our voice to celebrate women’s contributions to their home, work, society and the world at large.
According to unwomen.org the theme for this year is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. This years theme is focused on the innovative ways we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
FIDA Nigeria celebrates our great and courageous women achievers at all levels, who against all odds are breaking chains, pushing boundaries, climbing ladders and standing tall in all sectors of society. These women through their doggedness, perseverance and sheer determination are helping to close the gap in and promoting gender parity while facilitating in building a gender balanced world. We salute you and encourage others to rise up and emulate you. We celebrate women who have seized the moment and are creating pathways to enable better balancing …great mentors, great persons of influence touching lives and impacting positively. More women are participating in the political process, vying for and taking up appointments and key positions of leadership, however a very small percentage are given the opportunity to succeed in the very rough terrain.
Women as professionals are also breaking several glass ceilings, progressing in different business and operating seamlessly in the ‘man’s world’, determined not to be held down by stereotyping, absolutely courageous and independent geared towards breaking the set moulds and challenging the ancient systems. It is also now more common to see in society a higher percentage of women being bread winners, economically buoyant, owning great businesses. Yet, economic freedom is not enjoyed by all, as so many still suffer economic abuse, many still can’t culturally own land or property, many still suffer from the infringement of their inheritance rights and the education of the girl child is still a challenge.
When it comes to the legal profession, this years theme has encouraged us as female lawyers to reflect inwards. FIDA acknowledges that though we have achieved a lot in the fight to protect, promote and preserve the rights of women and children, we still have a long way to go. The judiciary is a compass of society and there needs to be more of a move towards upholding women’s rights.
Gender law is not yet mainstream in legal practice. Lawyers and the judiciary are encouraged to make a conscious effort to adjudicate and decide cases from a rights perspective.
Another issue, is the gender disparity in the leadership of the legal profession. The legal profession requires significant research and analysis and women who are typically the home makers, often find it difficult to find a happy balance and practice law because of these factors. FIDA Nigeria is proposing that one way we can innovate for change in the legal sector is to take a more digital approach to the practice of law in Nigeria. If we take a more technological approach to legal practice in Nigeria, the ease and speed of working will be increased and more women will be able to take advantage of it and attain higher positions. With more legal technology, more people would be able to work digitally and we would be able to reform the 8.00am to 8.00pm work hours, which most law firms in Nigeria are indirectly operating.
The legal profession in Nigeria must realise that technology and process are now just as important as legal expertise in the delivery of legal services. The legal sector must begin to think equal and innovate for change. Clients now want to be able to report their cases virtually or request their legal agreements virtually. It also saves them the time and energy. Case law and Statute can also be made more easily accessible if they are moved online. FIDA Nigeria is looking to make this digital move and develop a web application through which women and children can report their cases of abuse and violation and access FIDANs and FIDA partner contacts. This app is part of our efforts to “think equal, build smart and innovate for change” and so if you would like to get involved please contact us.
FIDA Nigeria calls for a greater gender balance, all round, at all levels and in all its ramifications. This is absolutely necessary because of the great benefits that will accrue to our communities and our nation. A balance will be for the better because where everyone is carried along, given equal opportunities, rights and benefits, peace and social justice will reign and consequently, we get a productive and progressive nation where everyone is opportune, without discrimination, to play any key roles they desire based on their strengths and merit.
We encourage the men to support gender parity. We need more #HeForShe champions to be our allies, collaborate with us as advocates for and champions for change as we seek to strike the gender balance. We need more progressive mindsets for inclusiveness.
We call on all to be great watchmen. Where there are lapses or any absence of balance, speak out, point it out and take progressive steps to balance it out.
FIDA Nigeria wishes women in Nigeria and all over the world a happy International Women’s Day and encourages all to #ThinkEqual #BuildSmart #InnovateForChange
Rhoda Prevail Tyoden
Country Vice President/National President
National Publicity Secretary