The African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) has embarked on a public sensitization project aimed at strengthening citizens’ voices in demanding for accountability in the security sector.
Director of Strategy, Centre LSD, Mr Itia Otabor told a news conference in Abuja on Monday that the project, tagged “Strengthening of Security Sector Accountability‘’, would be carried out in Lagos and FCT.
He said that the activities would include pre-citizens’ forum and citizens’ meeting with key civil society organisations, human rights bodies, security services and other stakeholders.
According to him, the group secured grant from Trust Africa, an independent foundation in Senegal, to execute the project.
Otabor said that the idea of the project was conceptualised against the backdrop of outcries by citizens on the security forces’ implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.
“Of note, was also the limitation of citizen’s ability to call out security services and demand redress,” Otabor said.
He identified lack of recourse mechanism as among factors that constrained citizens’ ability to stand up and let their voices be heard.
According to him, citizens do not have access to trusted and credible outlets to report cases of rights abuse with the assurance to get justice.
He said that resolution or investigative processes, even when such cases were reported, were often cumbersome and tedious.
He noted that there was perceived notion that reported cases would not be accorded attention, adding that usually those who experienced violations lacked the means to pursue the case.
Otabor also identified non-availability of channels to speak out when rights were trampled upon and limited access to government’s organs to engage and report as among other factors.
He said that citizens’ systemic suppression and intimidation over time by security forces had weakened their resolve to speak up, adding that citizens’ ignorance of their constitutional rights on such matter we’re among hindrances to seeking redress.
Otabor said that the project, therefore, espoused to address the issues to build a critical mass of active citizenry that could make their voices heard and hold security forces accountable.
He said that research on the impact of COVID-19 security measures on citizens would be commissioned and the outcome of the report would be used to evidence the advocacy process on the project.
Otabor said that advocacy to the National Assembly to present key findings that could influence bill would also be done.