It was a memorable gathering last Saturday at Otoro Clan Civic Centre, Abiakpo in Abak local government when hundreds of residents gathered to mark the 2016 International Human Rights Day.
The celebration with the theme: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability In The Extractive Sectors’ Security and Human Rights Arrangement Using The Voluntary Principles on Security And Human Rights:The Role of Host Communities, had the people sensitized on their basic rights and the need to demand for their rights at all time.
Addressing the people, the State Coordinator, Community Policing Partners, Justice, Security and Democratic Reforms (COMPAPRT), Barr. Saviour Akpan said the people have basic rights that should not be denied. Citing cases where rights are abused by policemen during arrest of suspects, the rights’ activist lawyer said the police have no right to abuse citizens during an arrest. He charged the people of the area to always stand up for their rights and report such an abuse.
He also sensitized the people on payment of money to police for bail, insisting that bail in Nigeria remains free.
Barr. Akpan particularly warned traditional rulers especially village heads, against infringement on the rights of their subjects on in criminal matters.
“As Village heads, you do not have right to arrest and try a suspect on criminal matters. All you have to do is to invite law enforcement agents to arrest the suspect and charge him or her to court,” he warned.
He regretted a situation where village heads and council members take laws into their hands wherever a suspect is arrested, citing a case where a suspect is paraded naked around the village or made to undergo all forms of abuse.
He said that he not hesitate to ensure arrest of those who abuse other peoples rights through obnoxious practices, in the name of tradition. Akpan “submitted that male and female children in the family have equal opportunities and rights especially in the sharing of family properties and assets.”
On his part, the Divisional Police Officer for Abak, CSP Francis Erahabor stressed the important of Human Rights to every society. He said that under his watch, no rights of the citizens or residents will be abused. He added that Police in Abak still remain friendly to the people.
Erahabor stated that bail remains free and no person should pay any money to police in the name of securing bail.
The Clan Head of Abak, His Highness, Obong Saviour Sylvester Udofia, thanked the Rights’ Organization for hosting the Day in Otoro Clan. He promised to partner the organization to ensure that the rights of of the people are not abused.
In his keynote address, retired Magistrate Idem Udosen disclosed that the people of the area have inherent rights that should not be trampled upon. He called on them to always demand transparency and accountability from those in positions of authority as it their right to do so.
Barr. Agatha Osieke, a human rights activist charged parents to ensure that the rights of their children especially the under aged ones are not abused. She described as pathetic and unfortunate, a situation where female folks are raped and abused by their male counter-parts. She said, “Every woman has a right. It must not be denied”.
This year’s International Human Rights Day had goodwill messages from the traditional rulers from the seventeen villages that make up Otoro Clan. High point of the event was free distribution of 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), to the people to study to know their rights and how to demand or apply as the case may be.