By Offor, Offor Ubangha
The bible says in Proverbs 19: 11
The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger and over look an offense.
The youth in a protest, pre-occupied the moral sensibility of the leaders and police authority with a charter of demands and serious crisis of confidence.
Protest as a major player and crusade for social change is further expressed by the desire to negate the exploitative and suppressive patterns of obnoxious policies, in the community which has a debilitating and dehumanizing effect and negative implications under international law and capable of collapsing the State.
Protest world-over is geared at attaining social change and is guaranteed under international law and democracy. It is a resolution to bring solution to challenge or problems facing mankind. Right to protest is fundamentally, a human right per se.
The development of the State through moralization of individuals backed by international law as human rights, democratization and good governance ipso facto is a sine qua non and desiderata which cannot be possible only in a morally debased environment where right to dissent, free expression and suppression of human rights is constantly accentuated and perpetuated and has become the normative order where every individual is hostile and at polarity against the fellow. According to Hobbes, development and progress will never thrive in such a primitive and rapacious State.
The intensification of police brutality reached its crescendo when debasing tales of State Anti Robbery Squad operatives in their incessant exploitation of the citizens and outright assaults became obvious and unbearable, with victimization of young people under the guise of combating cyber fraud to extra–judicial killings, amid reports about missing suspects in police custody. Nigeria, found herself in the State Athens was under the hands of its corrupt leaders, inordinate, ill-visioned society where morality was on vacation; glorification of corrupt practices became the order of the day. Like Socrates and his intellectual apostles, it dawn on the young population who are often ostracized in decision making, victimized by the police and other enforcement agencies and vulnerable to superfluous and insincere motives for political subjugation and exploitation. Their cry to transform the entire system of policing resonated with demands against unidentifiable misfits and outright public opinion against some personnel bereft of moral, spiritual and intellectual
civilization in a bid to enthrone a transparent, people oriented conscripted civil policy and social order.
How does the nation thrive under the given situation Nigeria found itself and vulnerable to sanction and isolation from the international community, with an eastward shift in her foreign relations and reliance on traditional rulers for diplomatic advice as spin-off from anxiety and uncertainties?
How does Nigeria maintain a healthy youth development scheme that is all encompassing and engaging in the right direction moving forward?
The solutions to those puzzling questions are not far-fetched. This is because a sound mind requires a sound body. The procedures and principles of International law is replete with modalities to forestall denial of justice, ensure State responsibilities and protection, bestow right and liabilities on State agencies, individuals and non-State entities so far as such bodies are the concern of the International community with permanent institutions possessing International legal personality and entering into relations with each other and with States.
USE OF FORCE IN THE REPRESSION OF #ENDSARs PROTESTS: A BREACH OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW.
The troubling reality on the ground in Nigeria reflects the military and political efforts toward frustrating democratic tenets and human rights via promotion and entrenched parochial, inhuman tendencies which breeds discontent and violence. In establishing the incidence of State responsibility, the inquiry proceed as follows: (1) it is pertinent to determine whether the military in committing the human rights abuse had or had not a general authority, under Nigeria law to perform the act in question.
In this case, there is no relative authority in this regard as there were counter statements and claims emanating from various quarters declining the complicity of the military in Lekki shootings, where the defense headquarters denied reports that Army officials were present at the toll gate during the protest. After revelations emanating from social media platforms and CCTV surveillance camera strategically positioned at the said area, recorded a foot age that portrayed Army presence with arms and sporadic shootings, the Agency that earlier refuted claims Army resort to armed force to dislodge the END SARS protest, labeling it as fake news, made a tacit excuse that the political administration of the state to re-press the protest; still yet denying reports about the killing of unarmed citizens, inflicting bodily injuries and breach of peace as acts of aggression against humanity or attempted genocide. Under the Nigerian legal system, the military has no place as it operates purely a democracy which relegates the military to the basic duty of training for the defense of the territorial integrity of the country. It is evident that the military often time is hostile to the civilian population in its history from the civil war down to its intervention in Nigeria’s political administration with a culture of intolerance, arbitrariness in the curtailment of individual liberty, resistant to change and difficult to live with.
Nigeria’s political crises is often been handled with military settlements, in most cases, disagreements that require dialectics to solve resulted in the death of innocent people.
The End SARs protest in Nigeria was analogous to revolution in the sight of the perpetrators of political and social evil, condemned as capable of bringing the bad administration of the current government in power to an abrupt end, like the coronary virus, the End SARS shook the foundations of Nigeria and portend her brinkmanship which sprout out the frosty and dangerous inordinate contradictions between the led and leaders. We saw the dangers inherent in this inordinate relationship between the citizenry and the rulers of the time who are constantly in a class struggle or distinction, which to Marx, has nothing good to offer to the welfare and development of the country, rather than promote inexhaustible competition, conflicting interest and other related negative consequences.
International law lends itself towards producing an ordered rather than just system of international relations with the objective to ensure justice is done between states and for mankind. The International Court of Justice as judicial tribunal set up to decide disputes between states and to give advisory opinions according to international law embedded in the charter of the United Nations signed at San Francisco on June 26, 1945 the term ‘justice’’ which appears in titles respectively and envisaged under its preamble Article 1 paragraph 1, Article 2, Paragraph 3 and Article 76 emphasizing its relationship to State law based on the justification of the primary purpose of International law which offers itself as a ready agent for the development of the State.
In a report presented in 1950, following the International Military Tribunal formulated by the International Law Commission of the United Nations
“any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under International law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment”.
Generally International law is seen to be designed only to maintain peace and the existence of war does not portend the non-existence of international law but it would be incorrect to regard the maintenance of peace as its entire purpose.
Sir Eric (1939) well said its raison d’ etre is rather to
“form a frame work within which international relations can be conducted and to provide a system of rules facilitating International intercourse; and as a matter of practical necessity it has, and will, operate as a legal system even when wars are frequent”.
The same authority goes on to say:
“it is, of course, true that the ideal of international law must be a perfect legal system in which war will be entirely eliminated, just as the ideal of municipal law in a constitution and legal system so perfect, that revolution, revolt, strikes, etc, can never take place and every man’s rights are speedily, cheaply and infallibly enforced.”
Lapses from such ideals are as inevitable as the existence of law itself.
The U.N was born in 1945 to end all wars and in humanity by man, to prohibit the use of force except in self-defense or in the common interest and to promote respect for the human rights and self-determination of all peoples. The charter of the U.N provides in general terms for the respect for fundamental human rights. These are elaborated in the Union declaration of human rights which is a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
Particularly, Article 104 of the United Nations charter envisages that U.N should enjoy in the territory of each of its members such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its purpose. Subsequently, in February, 1946, the United Nation General Assembly approved a convention on the privileges and immunities of the United Nation is which by Article 1 provided that the United Nations should possess “juridical personality” and have the capacity to contract, to acquire and dispose of immovable and movable property, and to institute legal proceedings.
This implies that the municipal legal personality of the United Nations may be considered well-established and having such status even with non-member states as held by the international court of justice report (1948) PP, 179-180.
The trend of international law towards attaching direct responsibility to individuals (reaffirmed in the genocide assembly in adopted by the united nations General Assembly in December 9,1948 in advance of the Nuremberg principle where parties agreed that offence of genocide, conspiracy or incitement to commit genocide, attempts and complicity there in, should be punishable on trial by national courts or by an international criminal tribunal) is of historic significance with references to “persons” as been guilty of crimes against the peace and security of mankind.
International law can reach over and beyond traditional technicalities, and prevent guilty individuals sheltering behind the abstract notion of the State. Article IV of the convention emphasized the aspect of individual responsibility and prescribed punishment for offenders whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals. Which lie in the direction of imposing duties on individuals under international law and protection for the victims of crimes against humanity under international law.
USE OF FORCE AS AN INTERNATIONAL DELINQUENCY
In practice most cases of state responsibility, at least before international tribunals, arise out of wrongs alleged to have been committed by the State concerned. By wrong in this regard is meant the breach of some duty which rests on a State at international law and which is not the breach of a purely contractual obligation. To such wrongs, more often, the term international delinquency in applied. Shut at, for example protesters were inflicted with personal injuries, improper arrests by the authorities and the inability of local judicial tribunals to accord justice or due redress, and so on.
States are bound by duties under international law in respect to the treatment of individuals for examples the Nigerian state has a duty under international law to provide proper judicial remedies for damages, a duty to protect the citizens and foreigners from gratuitous personal injury by its officials or agents and the duty to take all steps possible to apprehend and try those who have inflicted criminal damages on citizens or protesters. Under international law people have rights to liberty, enjoyment of life and property and most importantly, the notion of imputability apportions liability on States when her organs or official commits a wrongful act, which is a breach of international law imputed from the organs or official to the State.
Imputation however is the result of the intellectual operation necessary to bridge the gap between the delinquency of the organs or official, and the attribution of breach and liability to the state. The practical necessity of the notion is founded on the importance of keeping clear the limits between International law and municipal or State law. Breaches of duty by State agencies are imputed only according to rules of international law, even though under municipal law such act would not have been imputed to the State against which a claim is lodged, because for example, the agency concerned had acted ultra virus.
Imputability therefore lies on the satisfaction of two conditions: conduct of a state organ or official in breach of an obligation defined in a rule of International law; the attribution to the state, in conformity with international law, of this breach is imputable that the State becomes internationally responsible for the delinquency.
Responsibility begins where imputability ends.
Brierly, (1928) pointed out, the State:
“…is liable only for its own delinquencies, which me
\ns, since the state itself is an abstraction, for such injurious acts or omissions of authorities’ of the State, as international law, on principles of which the main outlines at least are settled, attributes to the State itself..”
Respect, even for municipal law in, some measure is based on the fear of sanctions. Sanctions serves as veritable economics instruments for achieving political objectives of international law, and their increasing use and efficiency underscore the reality of economic interdependence in the modern day.
In practice, if it is found that the military officials has the general competence to repress protests in Nigeria, what then follows is the consideration whether the breach of duty is or is not imputable, so as to make the State responsible under international law.
In this situation, international law acts entirely autonomously. For example, it may be that although the military officers exceeded the authority conferred by extant Nigerian laws, international law will nonetheless impute liability to the state.
As in this case, even in these circumstances Nigeria may become responsible under international law if through other officials or organs, it has broken an independent duty of international law, such as a duty to take steps to restrain the commission of the wrongful acts, or to punish the offender, or to take measures to prevent the recurrence of the offence. According to the report of the Sub-committee of Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law, (Op Cit, P. 97) the State may incur an indirect responsibility arising out of the ultra vires acts.
However, a State where it fails in its duty of repression and punishment of the guilty persons committing International law offences, as its agent’s liability may be imputed to the State. It is sometimes said that before a State is liable in this connection, there must be some implied complicity in the wrongful act either by negligent failure to prevent the injury, or to investigate the case with punitive measures.
The United Nations acted proactively when it admonished the government of Nigeria to ensure a credible judicial inquiry into the Lekki shooting of protesters by the military officers in a bid to ensure the breach of an independent duty imposed by international law in properly handled to bring justice to the protesting, unarmed citizens and ensuring that the Perpetrators of international crises are brought to book.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
In fact, for there to be any meaningful development, there is a greater need to ensure a tension free, peaceful co-existence and complementarity of purposes which would abate the strife in a state of nature and usher in a state of civil society through a social pact.
The protest and its resultant effects offers an insight into the public and civic relations in policy-making, leadership or governance portraying what can best serve both the people and the State. The protest called for a just and fair scheme with practical advice or demands that was not publicly rebutted by educated or opinionated people, including those in business and government. At least Nigerians now appreciate what it implies to pry leaders and the law enforcement agents and the public administrators, what it means to control or reprimand public concerns, repress emotional outburst, especially excessive anger and provocation in their use of force.
Youth protests against all the de-humanizing tendencies and the intensification of police brutality in a contemporary State where protest is democratically protected under the international law, as human rights.
It must be re-echoed here, that mankind possesses an inviolable dignity, an inalienable liberty, and an inescapable moral responsibility which decries the exploitation, instrumentalization and depersonalization of the mankind.
Under the law, equality and independence or self-determination is up-held as a sin (crime) to man-handle a human person by another. The Lekki shooting is not an accident in history, but arose out of blunt disregard to good governance, democratic ethics and civil rights.
The predilections and idiosyncrasies of the Nigerian political elites and military officers is premonitory in the tendency of Nigeria to depreciate the worth and absolute dignity of the citizenry to repressive and traumatic despotism or abusive rule in Nigeria’s unpredictable political landscape which had negative and counter private properly in aftermath.
The protest has been generally agreed as offering an insight in the botched state of the nation, the nationality question and relegation of human rights rendered out-molded, forgotten or totally neglected and seeded in double-standards.
According to the Nuremberg principle; crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commits such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.
It is expected that a credible panel of inquiry is constituted to investigate clearly the Lekki shooting, and ensure people bear responsibility for their actions. The parallel panels of inquiry as constituted by the military, federal government and Lagos strike should not end in bureaucracy or swept under the carpet.
Governments at all levels must take human rights seriously and ensure its protection of the citizens. Security of lives and property is the cardinal objective of governance, so the peace, security, good governance and development of Nigeria should become a priority to forestall the pitfall of becoming a serious state problem. Nigeria can’t afford to be seen as a pariah state with the debilitating effects or re-occurrence of human rights abuse and negligence to state responsibility and protection. As such victims of police brutality, military shootings etc should be adequately compensated and youth empowerments taken seriously with direct impact on beneficiaries other than divert the good intension of governments to private/corrupt politicians.
The military should be confined to the barracks unless on operations and should not be seen holding fire arms whenever drafted to do charity work.
Finally, the youths, should be rightfully engaged and empowered, to eschew crises and criminal tendencies that lead to their incarceration and men hand by law enforcement agents.
On the international scene, humanitarian and non-humanitarian aid should be rendered to enhance the ideals of the interdependence for projecting and instilling a formidable, virile, violence, free society especially the third world.
Moral and human development is the surest way to a secured social-economic and political environment.
It is hoped that the U.N and international institution will continually exert its power for the achievement of these fundamental rights which has through its adoption in constitutions and subsequent conventions become part of international customary law but with little influence in ensuring concrete adherence or progress beyond mere point of conceptual proclamations, attempting definitions and\ establishing organs (instead of courts) with restricted powers of investigations or recommendation, and priority of the mass communication of the aims and ideals to be realized.