By Stephen Adeleye
The Kogi State Government on Thursday commissioned an exquisitely furnished office with basic modern office equipment for the State Public Defender and Citizens’ Rights Commission, (PDCRC), to create a conducive environment for effective delivery of its mandates.
The State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ibrahim Sanni Muhammed SAN, who commissioned the office at the State’s Secretariat in Lokoja, commended the Governor for his commitment to promoting, protecting and enforcement of human rights in the state.
Mohammed also commended the DG of PDCRC for his commitment and efforts for going the extra mile to ensuring a befitting office accommodation for the Commission in spite the little available resources.
He further applauded the DG for the successes the PDCRC had recorded since its establishment and for working in tandem with its mandates.
According to him, the testimonies we have heard today confirmed that the Commission has done very well with limited resources.
The Attorney General assured the commitment of the State Government to ensuring that the commission continue to be independent without any form of interference in achieving its mandates.
He appreciated all the relevant stakeholders especially the security agencies for their support for the Commission and urged them to sustained the gesture.
He stressed the need for the general public especially the less privileged to be sensitised and be aware of the Commission’s activities.
He thanked His Excellency Alhaji Professor Yahaya Bello for his commitment to human rights, and for providing the enabling working environment for the Commission to take-off seamlessly.
”This is highly commendable, and we are very grateful to His Excellency for this initiative and his tremendous support”, he said.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the DG of Kogi PDCRC, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, noted that the Governor, signed into law, the bill establishing Kogi PDCRC Law, 2018, on 3rd June, 2019, giving meaning to access to justice as a key instrument in the enforcement of human rights in Kogi State.
”According to him, the PDCRC responsibility is to provide free legal aid and representations in civil and criminal matters in all Courts, and other related services to the indigent, less privileged and vulnerable residents of Kogi, who could not afford the service of legal practitioners.
He added that the commission also has the responsibility to promote, protect and ensuring the enforcement of human rights of residents of Kogi State guaranteed under Chapter Four (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended).
He said that the commission effectively commenced operations in October, 2019, and had in the short span of its existence in spite the overwhelming challenges, made some modest achievements, such as massive awareness campaigns through visit to critical stakeholders in the administration of justice sector.
He added that the Commission had made Legal Representation in High Courts and other courts in the State. Stating that so far, of the over 25 cases being handled by the Commission, seven (7) have been concluded, while others were still ongoing.
He added: ”Kogi State was about the first State in Nigeria to establish Human Rights Special Intervention group (HRSIG) to receive and rapidly respond to complaints of brutality by law enforcement officers in the wake of the then nationwide EndSars Protest.
Zakari further emphasised that a Critical Reforms in the Justice Sector had taken place in the State, under the leadership of the Hon Ibrahim Sanni Muhammed SAN, part of which was the establishment of PDCRC. All the reforms are quite impactful on effective delivery of Justice.
He added that the Commission was full of huge expectations in its desire and determination to work towards ensuring that human rights of Kogi residents were promoted, protected and enforced.
He stressed that the Commission had enjoyed independence in carrying out its mandates without any form of interference from government organs or individuals.
”The state is much more prepared than any other time to ensuring that residents’ rights are promoted, protected and enforced”.
He stressed that the huge commitment of ‘His Excellency, Alh Yahaya Bello, had only challenged them to do better, saying ”when our working environment is conducive, then our productive will definitely increase.
”Our lawyers will continue to get trained both local and international training to improving effective service delivery on our mandates”..
In his vote of thanks, the Chairman Governing Council of PDCRC, Muizideen Yoonus Abdullahi, thanked the Governor for his decision to establish the Commission, which was backed up by law.
He further commenced the security agencies for ensuring safety of the lives and property of the people of Kogi State, and for their support for the Commission since its establishment.
He thanked the security agencies for ensuring safety of the lives and property of the people of Kogi State, and for their support for the Commission since its establishment.
Other stakeholders at the meeting were: the DSS, NSCDC, POLICE, NBA, Kogi Chief Judge, Solicitor General, Women Affairs Ministry, Legal Aid Commission, FIDA, among others.
In their goodwill messages, the stakeholders commended the Governor for the establishment of the Commission, while assuring the DG of their full support in ensuring the promotion and enforcement of human rights in Kogi State.