A non-governmental organisation in Nigeria, Lawyers Alert has released a report on petty offence violations in the country, revealing deep societal challenges and the need for reforms.
Lawyers Alert urges all stakeholders, including government institutions, civil society organisations and community leaders to take cognizance of these development and uphold human rights by ensuring fair treatment and protection of all individuals, regardless of their social or economic status.
At a press conference, the Lawyers Alert’s Director Legal, Bar. Bamidele Jacobs said the report covers the reporting period from October 2022 to September 2023.
In this report, disobedience to constituted authority accounts for 25 percent of incidents of petty offences.
Lawyers Alert said government and elected officials are categorised as the constituted authority in the country and that intolerance towards diverse opinions by citizens led to arrests and molestations based on social media and traditional media content.
The report indicated that wandering and loitering take 16 percent of petty offence due to the issue of homelessness in major cities such as Abuja and Lagos, which serves as a reflection of the dire economic situation faced by the impoverished.
Rogue and vagabond and sexual minorities were tied for the third most common violations, each accounting for 11 percent of reported incidents.
This finding sheds light on the discrimination and marginalisation faced by these vulnerable populations within society.
Alms Seeking ranked fourth in the report, constituting 10 percent of the petty offences recorded during the reporting period. The practice of alms seeking highlights the socio-economic inequalities prevalent in the country.
Commercial Sex Work ranked fifth in the report, accounting for seven percent of the violations. This statistic points towards the challenges faced by individuals engaged in this trade and emphasises the need for comprehensive approaches in addressing their rights and protection.
Furthermore, hawking and compulsory wearing of nose masks were reported at five and four percent respectively. These infractions demonstrate the challenges faced during and post-COVID lockdown period. However, the lifting of the lockdown measures has understandably led to a reduction in COVID-19 related petty offences
“Through this report, we hope to raise awareness and encourage meaningful dialogue among stakeholders. By addressing these petty offences and overarching societal challenges, together we can build a more equitable and just society,” stated Bamidele Jacobs, Director legal noted.
Jacobs said the full report, including detailed analysis and recommendations could be accessed on the Lawyers Alert website.
Speaking on the importance of data on petty offences violations, Jacobs said Lawyers Alert has been able to fill a critical gap regarding lack of data on petty offences violations. He said “Using our online tool known as LadockT, we have been able to gather data across Nigeria directly from petty offenders themselves.”
Data is disaggregated by gender, age, location and type of violation. We launched the tool 5 years ago and for the past 3 years the tool has been used to capture petty offences violations which has proven to be a veritable source of data collation.
Lawyers Alert chose to do this in order to provide data to capture petty offences in Nigeria and towards the de criminalization of same. In Nigeria, it is usually the case that data is aggregated from several sources; thus this data was gotten from community members themselves.
Lawyers Alert’s data drills down to all of the Local Government Areas in Nigeria. While, of course, we do not have people sending in reports from every LGA, those that are captured have the advantage of accuracy.
This grassroots data will make for tailored and informed interventions towards the decriminalisation of petty offences. It will help programming and be a useful tool for advocacy ranging from resource allocation to passage of laws and policies.
Lawyers Alert is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights in Nigeria. With a team of dedicated professionals, Lawyers Alert works tirelessly to address issues of injustice and discrimination, seeking to empower individuals and communities through legal aid, advocacy, and capacity building programs