News and Events

* Calls for Independent Police Investigation

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) condemns in strong terms the the alleged assault on a frontline human rights activist and lawyer, Maxwell Opara Esq. by Jesam Michael Ubi and his cohorts at the Federal High Court premises Abuja on 7th of May, 2024.

Media reports making the rounds claimed that the alleged assault and attack on the lawyer happened while he was granting a press interview at the Court premises where he had gone to defend his clients who were charged with cyber bullying and criminal defamation. The clients who are the defendants in the matter are Mr. Donald Michael, Apost. Michael Okoh, Engr. Fimienye Awajoma, etc.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Tony Ojukwu OFR,SAN who disapproved of the said act while reacting to media reports on the incident wondered why aggrieved individuals and groups take laws into their hands attacking and assaulting Citizens. According to the Chief Human Rights Officer of Nigeria, it is most unfortunate that individuals, groups or institutions could contemplate and resort to selfhelp, taking the laws into their hands in a bid to settle disputes or misunderstanding when there are laid down Constitutional and legal mechanisms for addressing such matters amicably.

The learned Silk cited national, regional and international Laws and Articles prohibiting any form of assaults, torture or attacks. He cited Section 34 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which states that, "Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment".

In the same vein, the renowned Human Rights Advocate recalled the provisions of Article 7 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Right (ICCPR) which states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The Chief Executive Officer of the NHRC also picked holes in the alleged hijack of a press interview session addressed by the victim by agents of Mr. Jesam Michael Ubi, saying that such behaviour runs contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and other legal instruments which expressly guarantee the right to freedom of expression.

The Executive Secretary cited Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which provides that "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference". "Citizens must engage one another to settle disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms and where the matter is already in Court, all efforts must be made to exercise restraints and allow the Court to decide the case one way or the other and any party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Court can only appeal", the erudute lawyer advised.

He called on the Nigeria Police Force to immediately commence an independent investigation into the matter even as he urged Citizens who have useful information in this regard to assist the Police with such intelligence to enable them to fish out those behind these heinous and dastardly acts and ensure that they are prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law to serve as a deterrent.

However, as a Commission which is mandated by the law to promote, protect and enforce the rights of all Nigerians and other nationals living in the Country, we will allow the law enforcement agencies particularly the Nigeria Police Force to thoroughly investigate the matter in line with the doctrine of fair hearing and social justice.

The Commission urges everyone, including the aggrieved lawyer to refrain from any action that is at variance with what the legal profession stands for while awaiting the outcome of the investigation, to avoid further escalation of the issue.