The Stop Impunity Nigeria (S.I.N) Campaign on August 21, 2013, launched a documentary that recommends a collaborative effort of the government, citizens, press and civil society organisations to curb impunity in Nigeria.
Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Edetaen Ojo, who is a partner organisation to the campaign, said the documentary was part of the Campaign’s efforts aimed at explaining the concept of impunity and demonstrating its negative effects on the country to the larger society in order to rouse citizens to action.
The documentary which was also simultaneously launched online on social media platforms includes ample collection of interviews on impunity with several senior government officials, eminent lawyers, academics, representatives of religious bodies, civil society and human rights activists, among others.
Mr. Ferdinard Agu, a Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government in the Presidency, said in the documentary that although he believes in the power of the government to bring about change, it is more compelling for ordinary people to organize themselves to enforce their rights and demand that the right thing be done at all times.
Mr. Agu said: “I am a believer in the power of government to do things but I think the strongest power is the power of the people. If you study social change, and see how it has evolved, great ideas can come from the elite but it often catches a catalytic force when the people below join it, then the government must respond.”
Also speaking in the documentary, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), emphasized the role of the Judiciary in ending impunity and that an important programme in curbing impunity would be for the country to have a strong and independent Judiciary.
Human rights lawyer and former President of the West African Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), noted in the documentary that “Impunity is traceable to the lack of confidence in the rule of law by the ruling class,” adding that: “When the government itself lavishly grants amnesty to all manners of criminal offenders, the government loses the moral integrity to bring those who commit lesser offences to justice.”
The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, also spoke in the documentary, highlighting the role of the media in curbing impunity in the country.
He said: “The press should be on the side of truth and justice, when the press reports with impunity, that is, issues they have no idea of at all, or issues they have not taken steps to verify, they are also guilty of the offence of impunity, so the press should as a matter of urgency purge itself and represent the values of journalism, of the profession, by taking steps to confirm facts on individuals or issues before they publish and also by redefining their context to reflect the needs of the society.”
Mr. Oluwamuyiwa Adejobi, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, who was also interviewed in the documentary called for everyone to “kick against impunity on time” warning that if this was not done, “it is going to be disastrous at the end of the day.”
Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, noted that the responsibility for addressing the growing culture of impunity rests with the Nigerian people.
Civil society leader and Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (LSD), Dr. Otive Igbuzor, decried the high level of impunity in the country and said, “Government must ensure that there is accountability among security agencies so that citizens will have trust not only in these security agencies but in the government.”
The Stop Impunity Nigeria campaign is a collaborative campaign by a multi-stakeholder group aimed at awakening public awareness to the corrosive effects of impunity in the country.
S.I.N Campaign is the initiative of four civil society organizations working in the areas of governance, transparency and accountability, namely: Human Development Initiatives, Media Rights Agenda, Community Life Project, and the Centre for Social Justice working with other organizations.