The Buhari administration has promised to end impunity for crimes against members of the public including journalists.
The promise is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in Abuja once again appealed to Nigerian youths to end street protests and participate in meaningful discussions with the government aimed at comprehensive reforms to end all forms of police brutality against Nigerians.
Buhari made the appeal in his message to the maiden National Youth Day celebration, which was observed on Sunday. The event coincided with the African Youth Day celebration.
He told the gathering that the pleas of Nigerian youths have been heard by his administration, adding that the government ‘‘now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas,’’ from the youths, while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.
”You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you. However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
”Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.
”It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
”As youth, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour”, he says.
President Buhari also used the occasion to express his strong opposition to the wrongful use and imposition of violent force against any innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly young people.
”No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalized by law enforcement agencies.
”It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
”To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people. This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he said.
Restating his call for national unity, President Buhari said Nigerian youths are better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedevilling the nation.
”On this special occasion, we affirm our faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and in its future. We face many challenges but, in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us’’, he said.
At the event with the theme: Invest in the Youth, Secure Our Future, the winners of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development organised 60-day App Challenge and Youth Innovators were recognised and received cash rewards.
In the mean time, Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the promise of the Buhari administration to end impunity for crimes against citizens public, as he recognised the United Nation’s proclamation of November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the minister says it is gratifying to note that Nigeria is no longer among the countries with impunity for crimes against journalists.
“The 2020 global index for impunity for crimes against journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), released on Wednesday 28th day of October 2020 indicated that Nigeria is the only country that came off the index from 2019”, says Malami.
He described the achievement as a result of deliberate and committed efforts of the Buhari administration through the implementation of many reforms in the Nigerian justice sector to include increased access to justice, speedy justice dispensation, decongestion of Nigeria’s correctional centers and judicious implementation of the Criminal Justice Act and Justice Sector reforms.
Continuing, he says he is optimistic that with solid foundation of reformed justice sector to be bequeathed by Buhari administration, never again will Nigeria feature among nations where journalists, citizens and inhabitants of the country will suffer from any form of impunity in the future.
He notes that the recent developments in Nigeria’s international arbitration against P&ID and some international oil companies are but indicators of resolute determination of the Federal Government to bring to an end the era of impunity and lack of adherence to due diligence and rule of law in governmental operations.
“It could be recalled that in the last decade, before the advent of the present administration, Nigeria ranked 13th across the globe and used to be among top three African countries with impunity for crimes against journalists only after Somalia and South Sudan”, he says.
While expressing commitment to maintain the tempo, Malami said there was no room for complacency in ensuring serene online and offline atmosphere of journalism practice in the country.
He said the government is working to ensure safety of journalists against rhetorical aggression, trolling, incursion of privacy, phishing and cyber-attacks, adding that with the implementation of the Cybercrime Act 2015 the incidences of cyber-related crimes would be minimized.
Malami, therefore, urged journalists to adhere strictly to the ethical provisions of their profession and refrain from misinformation and fake news.