INSIDEMAINLAND– The Lagos State House of Assembly is seeking to establish the Lagos State Human Rights Committee in recognition of citizens’ and residents’ dignity and rights.
Mr. Victor Akande, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions, and LASIEC, announced this during a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday at the assembly complex.
According to Akande, the committee was established by the Bill titled “A Law to Amend the Office of the Public Defender Law, 2015.”
He stated that when an executive bill is transferred to the Legislative House, a public hearing must be held, and in this case, a stakeholders meeting is required to take the public’s observations into account.
According to the lawmaker, the establishment of the Lagos State Human Rights Committee would further promote the adoption of equal and inalienable rights for all members of the public.
Akande promised that the Lagos State House of Assembly would scrutinize the bill and expand it where necessary.
The chairman went on to say that the House would craft a strong law that would address citizens’ concerns and seek a better way to protect them.
Speaking, Mr. Femi Falana, a human rights activist, thanked the executive arm for sending the bill to the House as part of the resolutions formed at the EndSARS State Judicial Panels of Inquiry.
Falana stated that the Office of the Public Defender has been tasked with the monumental task of defending the rights of Lagos State residents and visitors from government officials, private individuals, and organizations.
“The intended Human Rights Committee should be an independent body as it will be an agency that will register complaints and petitions of over 21 million people.“It will also address international fora and organizations such as ECOWAS and the United Nations over human rights issues in Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa,” he said.
Falana, who argued in favor of its independence, added that the agency’s funding should be independent as well because most human rights organizations do not rely on government stipends.
He proposed that the committee include one senior officer from the Nigerian Armed Forces to bridge the gap between the Force and any human rights cases heard by the committee.
Falana also proposed that following the stakeholders’ meeting, various human rights organizations in the state be contacted to receive their memoranda.
Mrs. Olayinka Adenrera, Director of the Office of the Public Defender in Lagos, stated that the committee would require separate funding because the Public Defender’s Office was already overburdened with human rights cases.
Mrs. Bimbo Sowemimo of the Ministry of Justice also stated that the state intended to implement the recommendations of the EndSARS panel of inquiry.
Sowemimo went on to say that the proposed amendment was an attempt to put that in motion, monitor, and observe its effectiveness in the system.
Similarly, Mrs. Semi Ogunfowode, Chief State Counsel at the Citizens Mediation Centre, praised the bill-drafting process.
Ogunfowode stated that the committee demonstrated the government’s concern for the people’s well-being.