Sit-At-Home not a criminal offense, Intersociety tells Gov Mbah

International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, has said that the Sit-At-Home being enforced in some South East states, particularly Enugu state is not a criminal offence in Nigeria or any part of the world.

It noted that ‘Sit-at-Home’ is not a criminal offense with prescribed penalties in any written law governed by the 1999 Constitution and the Nigeria’s acceded Rights and Humanitarian Treaty Laws.

The rights group was reacting to the killing of three traders in Enugu, by security agencies over their protest to the closure of their of their shops by the state government.

Intersociety in a statement by its Board Chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Democracy and Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche, and Head, International Contacts and Mobilization Ositadinma Agu, said:

“The Enugu State Government under Governor Peter Mbah must be told in clear and unequivocal terms that ‘Sit-at-Home’ is not a criminal offense with prescribed penalties in any written law governed by the 1999 Constitution and the Nigeria’s acceded Rights and Humanitarian Treaty Laws.

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“The executive ‘criminalization’ of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” by ways of tyrannical or dictatorial orders or military and police siege or threats of force or use of same including sealing off markets and use of deadly force against stick and placard-carrying victim-population are nothing short of Executive recklessness and abuse of office.

“They are also clear acts of criminalization of security and other safe conditions or de-criminalization of insecurity and other unsafe conditions.


“Such Executive conducts are also unconstitutional, illegal, extra legal, extra jus and impeachable.

Governor Mbah should retrace his steps before it is too late

“The leadership of Intersociety, hereby calls on Governor Mbah of Enugu State to quickly retrace its steps before it is too late so as to avoid plunging the state into another Imo killing field and wittingly or unwittingly supervise wanton destruction of the “Garden-Capital City of the East.

“The Enugu State Government must as a matter of uttermost urgency and inexcusability unseal and reopen all markets and other businesses it tyrannically shutdown and refrain from such dastardly acts of executive recklessness and brigandage.

“The lawful act of doing business in Enugu or any part thereof must not be allowed to be criminalized and made vulnerable to state and non state dark forces of destruction.

“If Governor Mbah is truly concerned, his government must critically address the fundamental causes and the triggers of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” which include the continued detention without trial of Nnamdi Kanu and sources of the political supports and weaponization by those behind proclamation and enforcement of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home,” including whether they are linked or not linked to Nigeria’s national or sub-national Government (s) or their top functionaries.

“It must again be pointed out that going by the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Treaty Rights and Humanitarian Laws, ‘Sit-At-Home’ is not a criminal offense and exercise of same has never constituted criminal offense known to written law with prescribed penalties in the country.

“This is to the extent that ‘Sit-At-Home’ is part of the Godly endowed Human Rights or Natural Rights of Human Persons.

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“Right to Freedom to Sit-At-Home’ shares same freedom with ‘Right to Freedom of Worship or Religion, Ethnicity or Tribe’ which is further strengthened by ‘Rights to Freedom of Thought and Conscience” contained in Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“Criminalizing ‘Sit-At-Home’ is like criminalizing Rights to Freedom of Worship and Ethnicity guaranteed by the same Section 38 of the Constitution; likewise Section 37 which guarantees citizens’ right to Family and Privacy.

“By Section 1 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, “if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void.

“The sum-total of the above also indicates that ‘Sit-At-Home’, though could be economically damaging in the context of “Monday-Sit-At-Home” but it does not constitute criminal offense(s).

“ Section 36 (8) and (12) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 specifically forbids any form of executive criminalization and punishment of any citizen over act or conduct that does not constitute an offense with prescribed penalties in a written law as at the time such act or conduct was carried out.

Governor’s actions nothing but false gallantry, state extremism

“The conducts of the present Governor and Government of Enugu State are also nothing short of false gallantry and state extremism.

“It is, therefore, correct to say that the combined negative effects of abuse of office, pride and arrogance are at work as well as mis-prioritization and misapplication of governance policy directions.

“That is to say that if the governor and government of the state are grounded with governance “input and output legitimacies” including readiness to fundamentally and popularly govern the State, the Enugu Governor’s radical approaches to “Monday-Sit-At-Home” and their unfolding social consequences would have been avoided and the issue handled with extreme care and caution.

“One of the frontal ways of handling and ending the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” is political solution including releasing Nnamdi Kanu on parole and putting an end to age-long ‘structural, physical and cultural violence policy’ against the people of Eastern Nigeria such as political exclusion and reversal of the former President Buhari’s Government ‘operational death code’ against defenseless citizens of the region.

Traders in Enugu on Wednesday protest closure of their shops by Gov Mbah during which 3 were killed by security agents

“Needed to be ascertained, too, are professional capacities and capabilities of the deployed security agencies and their chiefs deployed in the South-East including Enugu State, especially in the areas of managing democratic protests as well as preparedness, willingness, ability, competence and evenness of the security agencies to protect and safeguard those who would wish to defy the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” order of the Simon Ekpa group.

“Additionally, what is the guarantee that the drafted security agencies especially the military, police and DSS are not “enemy security forces” hiding under enforcement of “Monday-Sit-At-Home” to massacre defenseless citizens at sight and falsely label them “IPOB/ESN Sit-At-Home Enforcers? “What are the ethnic and religious compositions of the deployed police and military personnel in the South-East, including Enugu State?

“What is the position or policy direction of the Governor and Government of Enugu State regarding the unchecked activities of the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and the MACABAN’s Fulani Vigilante Group terrorizing over 22 Enugu communities?

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“What are the operational approaches or attitudes of the deployed police, military and DSS operatives and their chiefs toward Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Enugu State?

“It is, therefore, unfortunate and deeply regrettable that instead of the present governor and Government of Enugu State marshalling out or pursuing their development plans by cuing them into the likes of the UNDP’s 1992 ‘Human Security and its Seven Dimensions (health security, food security, economic security, environmental security, personal security, community security and physical security).

“They are busy beating about the bush by “criminalizing security” and “de-criminalizing insecurity” so as to over-bloat the State Governor’s monthly security votes and have them wastefully spent without statutory accountability in line with the international best practices.

Traders in Enugu on Wednesday protest closure of their shops by Gov Mbah during which 3 were killed by security agents

“It is historically unheard of in democratic settings that an elected state governor uses state coercive instruments to clampdown on defenseless citizens and their immovable and moveable properties, including hard-earned goods and services simply because they conscientiously resolved to stay off their businesses in solidarity with Nnamdi Kanu’s continued detention without proper or expeditious trial or compelled to do so to avoid being killed by the strongly suspected government-linked armed group(s) or hateful and crude security agencies.

“This is more so when several research and investigative reports have found the deployed government security agencies in Eastern Nigeria, including Enugu State “to be more criminal and atrocious than the armed groups they are constitutionally mandated to uproot.

“The most shocking of it all is the continued reckless and indiscriminate use of brute or deadly force by the Nigeria Police and the Military personnel and their commanders in policing or managing democratic assemblies and free speeches for purpose of de-escalating them and ensuring general public safety.

“Apart from being deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines, policing agencies and their officers in the country including Enugu State have remained crude and barbarous and refused to apply or use the following modern crowd control methods or approved kits: tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric tasers, batons, whips, water cannons, long-range acoustic devices, aerial surveillance, police dogs, etc; with their handlers bodily aided or protected by body protective devices such as anti crowd helmets, face visors, body armor (i.e. vests, neck protectors, knee pads, etc), gas masks and anti crowd shields, etc,” it added.

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