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Lawyers shield looters from justice–NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission has described as worrisome the practice of some senior lawyers in the country who are using the platform of the fight for human rights to shield treasury looters from justice.

The NHRC, which described such lawyers as pretenders in the human rights community, vowed on Thursday that it would resist and expose them.

It called on civil society organisations in the country to team up with it to do so.

A statement on Thursday by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project quoted the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof. Ben Angwe, as saying this in Lagos during the inauguration of a report put together by SERAP.

The report, entitled, “Health in Decline: Human Rights Impacts of Corruption in Nigeria’s Health Sector,” was put together by SERAP in collaboration with the Ford Foundation.

Angwe, who was represented by Mr. Wahab Oyedokun, identified corruption as a direct violation of the fundamental rights of the masses.

He said those who looted the nation’s treasury had lost the moral grounds to complain that their own fundamental rights were being violated.

Angwe said the practice of lawyers shielding looters from prosecution was an abuse of the principle of the fight for the protection of human rights.

He said, “There is a problem in the human rights community. That problem is that we have pretenders in the human rights and legal communities using the platform of human rights to advance corruption and to shield corrupt elements in our society.

“It is our responsibility to expose these pretenders and to make sure that our citizens recognise that fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators is really the cause to promote human rights.  This is the right course to take as a human rights advocate.

“You can’t steal so much and subject people to suffering and claim to have human rights. This is not the way to go. Human rights are for the advancement of the greatest majority of the greatest number.

“So, when we see our senior citizens at the Bar, or public service trying to undermine the work of SERAP, the National Human Rights Commission and other human rights bodies we have to make sure that we shout them down.”

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