National Human Rights Commission, Others Express Worry Over State Of Petty Offenders In Nigeria

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Civil Society Organizations and Professional bodies in Nigeria have expressed worry at the rate poor and vulnerable Nigerians are facing the full wrath of the law over petty acts that constitute offences often committed due to poverty and hunger.The citizen groups at the meeting held on Wednesdaay, July 14 and 15th in Lagos  agreed to work together as a coalition to advocate for the decriminalization of petty offences in the country.

The need for the advocacy for the decriminalization of petty offences in the country became imperative given the manner indigent citizens are languishing in prisons for acts like hawking, loitering, sex work, theft of food items and suppose breach of public peace for which many indigent citizens have been convicted sentenced.

Participants at the meeting expressed strong will to work together towards decriminalization of petty offences in Nigeria and resolved to expand the coalition by bring in more partners.

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu in his welcome speech, said: ” It is pertinent to mention that petty offences have a strong link with poverty as well as social and economic issues that affect the dignity of the Nigerian person”

The groups at the meeting include the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Girl to Woman, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF).

Others are Lawyers Alert Nigeria, Coalition of Lawyers for Human Rights (COLaHR) Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC),  and Drug Harm Reduction Network in Nigeria (DHRAN).

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