The team of Ebonyi State Human Rights Complaint Office, a committee set up on the wake of EndSARS Protest by the State Governor to receive complaints from the public on the Human Rights Violation today, 9th November, 2020 paid a courtesy visit to the Comptroller of Correctional Service, Mr. Ogbodo Boniface in his office at Ekwulumili Street Abakaliki, the State Capital.
Speaking during the visit, the Chairman of Ebonyi State Human Rights Complaints Office and State Ombudsman, Chief Emmanuel Obasi Jp who also doubles as the Deputy Principal Secretary to the Ebonyi State Governor emphasized that, the essence of the visit was in line with the directive of Mr President to set up Human Rights Complaint Office to investigate and recommend compensation and other remedial measures against human rights violation and abuses generally by Law Enforcement Agents as promised the EndSARS protesters which His Excellency Engr David Nweze Umahi swung into action and constituted the Human Rights Complaints Office made up of Chief Emmanuel Obasi Jp as Chairman and State Ombudsman, Comrade Mrs Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor as Secretary and Mr. Chris Okorie as member to represent the NHRC on 20th Oct, 2020.
Chief Emmanuel Obasi noted that it has become necessary that all the stakeholders in different Security Service Sectors should rise to ensure that Human Rights are protected because an injury to one is an injury to all. He stressed that, the visit was to seek hands of fellowship with the Correctional Service Office to guarantee that the Rights of those under their custody as inmate and especially those Awaiting Trial are not being abused anyhow adding that the right of all the inmates must be respected and guaranteed except maybe that of Freedom of Movement etc as enshrined in their Acts.
He however requested that the Correctional Service Boss, Ogbodo Boniface should serve humanity by way of visiting prisons across the State to listen to the ordeals of the inmates and ascertaining whether their rights are being infringed upon or not. Chief Obasi equally pointed out that prison inmates especially those who are still undergoing trail have the right to complain if their Fundamental Human Rights are abused, adding that Section 182, Sub Section 1 of the Ebonyi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2019 provides that after 180 days from the date of arraignment, the Comptroller of Correctional Service should make Returns to the Chief Judge and Attorney General to ensure that people do not stay in prison custody Awaiting Trial for a long period of time before their conviction or acquittal. He stated that detention of suspects for a long period of time without trial is akin to Abuse of Human Rights. And further informed the Comptroller on the proposed summit to be organised by Human Rights Complaints Office to educate Ebonyians on their Fundamental Human Rights and pleaded with him to avail himself to address Ebonyians on such occasion. Chief Obasi hinted that the team of Ebonyi State Human Right Complaints office will be embarking on a tour to the two Correctional Centres in the State in due course.
Contributing, Comr Mrs Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor SA on Inter Party and Labour Matters who’s the Secretary of the Ebonyi State Human Rights Complaint Office disclosed that the Committee has thus far received 8 complaints from some individuals in the State. She hinted that their duty was to receive complaints of Abuse of Human Rights by Security Agents from individuals in the State, investigate them and report back to the Special Security and Human Rights Committee Chaired by the State Governors, His Excellency Engr David Nweze Umahi for further action. She called on Ebonyians whose rights were infringed by Security agents or vigilante groups to come up with their petition for decisive action.
Reacting, the State Comptroller Ogbodo Boniface expressed utmost pleasure for the visit. He maintained that what led to the emergence of the Human Rights Complaint Committee was as a result of the EndSARS protest. He noted that his office has continued to respect Rights of prison inmates in their two Correctional Centres at Abakaliki and Afikpo and pointed out that there is a system put in place that protects the inmates which stipulate that inmates should be kept in accordance with their different offence.
He cited the Standing Order of Correctional Service, which according to him guaranteed the rights of inmates to be investigated thoroughly and tested first to know if the person truly committed the offence in question before any punishment is administered on him/her while in prison depending also on doctor’s approval. He also cited a system which allows the inmate to have recreational activities, among other privileges. Comptroller Ogbodo Boniface further emphasized that those on awaiting trial are not regarded as inmate, noting that they are being treated differently and respectfully until they are convicted. He however assured the Committee that the Criminal Administration Law of the Ebonyi which gave him the right to make report of inmate after 180days to Chief Judge and Attorney General will be carried out as stipulated under his watch. And assured the Committee access to interact with the inmates and promised to give them the necessary cooperation and support in carrying out their duties.
The Deputy Comptroller of Correctional Service who is the Head of Admin, DCC Austin Nwaosuagwu added that there is welfare packages which allows the inmates to speak with their relatives on phone as provided by the Correctional Centre, among others. Barr Ben Odoh who is the Legal Adviser to the Ebonyi State Human Rights Complaints Office disclosed that there was a law passed by the State Government which stipulate that those who steal phone, or commit minor offences etc should be convicted to serve where they will learn how to repair phone etc as a means of empowerment and attitudinal change.
The Legal Adviser to Ebonyi State Human Rights Complaint Office, Barr Odo Ben, some Staff of the Ebonyi State Complaints Office and the Press were among the delegation. If your right was abused (Dehumanized, beaten black and blue) by any Security Agents you may send your complaint to: [email protected] Or call, WhatsApp and text the following numbers: Mtn: 09131830866 Glo: 09154151331 Airtel: 09040263359.