Human Rights Complaints C'tee visits Ebonyi Comptroller Correctional Service, sets to hear from inmates


By Martins Nwede

The team of Ebonyi State Human Right Complaints Office, a committee set up on the wake of #EndSARS protest by the State Governor, Engr. David Umahi 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, 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 doubled 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 human rights complaint office to investigate and recommend compensation and other remedial measures against human rights violations and abuses generally by the law enforcement  agents as promised the #EndSARS# protesters which Governor Umahi swung into action by constituting the committee.

Chief Emmanuel Obasi noted that it has become necessary that all the stakeholders in different 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  the rights of those under their custody as inmate and especially those awaiting trial are not been abused anyhow, adding that the right of all the inmates must be respected and guaranteed except that of freedom of movement as enshrined in their acts.

He however, requested that the Correctional Service Boss, Ogbodo Boniface should serve the humanity by way of visiting prisons across the State to listen to the ordeal of the inmates and ascertain whether their rights are being infringed or not.  

Chief Obasi equally pointed out that the inmates who are still undergoing trails have the right to complain if their Fundamental Human Right 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 in 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.

Further, he 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 appealed that the team of Ebonyi State Human Right Complaints office will be embarking on a tour to the two Correctional Centres in the State. 

Contributing, Comr Mrs Jennifer Adibe-Nwafor, the Special Assistant to the State Governor on Inter Party and Labour Matters, who is also the Secretary of the Ebonyi State Human Right Complaints Office disclosed that the Committee has so far received 8 complaints. She hinted that their duty was to receive complaints of abuse of human rights by security agents from individuals in the state, investigate it and report back to the Special Security Committee headed by Governor 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 and pointed out that there is system put in place that guides 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 inmates to be investigated thoroughly and tested to know if the person truly committed the offence before any punishment is administered on them while in prison. 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 who is the head of Admin DCC Austin Nwaosuagwu added that there was 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 Right Complaints Office, Barr Odo Ben, Staff of the Ebonyi State Complaints Office and the press were among the delegation. 

Te Committee said that anybody whose right  was abused (Dehumanized, beaten black and blue) by any security agents may send his or her complaint to or call, WhatsApp and text the following numbers:

Mtn:   09131830866
Glo:    09154151331 
Airtel: 09040263359

Recall that the Committee members included 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 National Human Rights Commission and they were inaugurated on 20th Oct, 2020.

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