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Ahoada NBA Inaugurates Human Rights Committee . . . Calls On The Public To Report Abuses

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   by Oyagiri Chime-emele

The Nigeria Bar Association, Ahoada East Local Government Area branch, Rivers State has inaugurated a 15man human rights committee.

The Committee which is saddled with the responsibility of providing free legal aid to indigent inmates in the Ahoada Correctional Centre and police stations within its jurisdiction was inaugurated last Friday, April 29th by its branch chairman, Alali Morris Kipe, Esq at its Secretariat in Ahoada Town, Rivers State.

Fielding questions from journalists after the inauguration, Kipe explained that the role of the rights committee is to complement government’s efforts in prison decongestion through its free legal aid in the form of ‘enforcement of fundamental human rights and bail applications.

The charge to the committee, according to the chairman is; “To ensure that they discharge their responsibilities within the confines of and provision of the Nigeria Bar Association and the branch Bye-laws.

“And particularly, the charge is to ensure they pursue the rights of these inmates within our jurisdiction.”

Kipe further stated that those to benefit from the NBA’s aid are; “Persons awaiting trial for capital offences for a period not below five (5) years and other offenders in deserving cases, e.g, elderly and sick persons.”

In achieving this target, Kipe explained that it has to collaborate with some agencies and governmental offices.

His words: “The agencies that are directly concerned with human rights are particularly the Correctional Centre, the Chief Judge, Anthoney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Registrar of the Judiciary and Comptroller of Prisons. We are going to have engagement with these authorities to facilitate our works.”

Also, the NBA Human Rights Committee Chairman, Barrister Henry N. Amadi, hinted that the committee’s responsibility covers all human rights abuses, including; rape, molestation, domestic violence and the core responsibilities of prison decongestion and bail applications.

Amadi, who is also the branch Vice Chairman stated help/incident desk has been opened in the secretariat, to enable members of the public to access and benefit from the laudable exercise, added that eleven (11) legal chambers have been marked as centres for the exercise.

When asked if other agencies concerned, refuses to key into the project, undermining the targeted success. He said; “I doubt if any agency will do that. The Correctional Centre wants the facility to be decongested. Same with the police.

“Though in the event of such situations, the constitution has some windows opened to explore. The law can compel anybody to allow or permit an action to be taken or executed against the personal wish of the authorizing authority.”

The Committee chairman in his quest to deliver on his mandate, appealed to the Chief Judge of Rivers State to grant the committee a waiver of filing fees for such applications.

He further appealed to the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State, through the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for accurate and relevant information to facilitate its assignment.

Amadi said the third agency he is appealing to is, the Deputy Comptroller General of Ahoada Correctional Centre, to supply the committee with accurate and relevant information of inmates and to assist in the production of applicants to court whenever their cases are coming up.

He called on members of the public to maximize the opportunity that is been presented by the bar in Ahoada zone.

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