Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president Augustine Alegeh has called for the enforcement of the rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including keeping them in habitable camps.
He said nearly all the camps habouring IDPs are in deplorable conditions and need urgent attention.
A former United Nations (UN) war crimes prosecutor, Charles Adeogun-Phillip, said there are 38million IDPs’ globally. Nigeria, he said, has the third highest number of IDPs.
He said Nigeria’s IDPs were estimated to be 1.5million, but the figure could be higher due to lack of accurate data on their spread and gender.
Alegeh, represented by NBA Vice-President Taiwo O. Taiwo, and Adeogun-Phillips spoke in Lagos at the 13th anniversary/annual lecture of a rights group, the Crusade for Justice (C4J).
It had the themes: Checking the scourge of IDPs, economic and Political Refugees and protection of their fundamental human rights – the options open to a responsive and responsible government; and Oil and Gas Exploration and Prospecting in Nigeria: Due Process and its abuse – an overview.
Alegeh, who chaired the event, believes government has not shown much care for IDPs. He said: “They live like pigs and they are Nigerians. It goes to show the way the government treats all of us. We don’t have to wait for the UN to tell us how to treat our citizens.”
Adeogun-Phillips called for an institution that would make the welfare of IDPs its focal point, as well as policies that will ameliorate their plight.
For instance, he said IDPs need adequate security and legal protection of their fundamental human rights.
“IDPs need full rights and should not be discriminated against. The protection of the most vulnerable members of the society should be a given,” he said.
Crudade for Justice President, Richard Nwankwo, said rights abuses are prevalent among security agencies, saying they need re-orientation.
For instance, he said the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) does not grant administrative bail to suspects unless directly endorsed by the chairman.
“When a suspect is detained and the officer in charge falls sick, the suspect must wait for the officer to recover, and if he recovers and the chairman is out on official assignment, the suspect stays in suspended animation.
“This is a big shame. govern-ment agencies are now run like ‘cults’ and ‘privately owned companies,” he said.
Nwankwo said heads of security agencies should be accessible so that officers under them do not abuse their powers.
Among guests at the event were Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, represented by a Deputy-Chief Registrar in charge of Admin, Bisi Femi-Segun; Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Peter Umeadi, represented by Mr Andy Igbokwe; Chairman, Ikeja Branch of NBA, Yinka Farounbi, and engineer A. C. Emelobe, who gave the second lecture, among others.