More traditional rulers trained in dispute resolution and human rights protection

Two hundred and forty-five (245) traditional rulers from Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states have benefitted from capacity strengthening in the traditional justice system implemented by the Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme. The beneficiaries, made up of 165 district heads from the three states and 80 ward and village heads from Borno State, participated in workshops held in Damaturu, Maiduguri and Yola in November 2020, facilitated by Green Horizon. The workshops sought to enhance the knowledge of traditional rulers on the Nigerian legal system, the different forms of alternative dispute resolution, human rights protection in traditional justice systems, and coordination with formal security and justice institutions. 

A key element of the workshops were interactive sessions where the traditional rulers engaged with a wide range of stakeholders – from security agencies, justice administrators, civil society and the media – to address challenges in justice administration by both formal and informal institutions. Notable among issues raised across the states was the underfunding of traditional councils; lack of coordination between formal justice and security institutions with traditional rulers; delays in handling of cases due to complex procedures in the formal courts; lack of investigation capacity in law enforcement agencies; and the erosion of public trust in law enforcement agencies. MCN is working with stakeholders to address these and other identified issues.

The latest capacity building initiative also targeted 80 scribes of traditional rulers trained in Borno. The scribes were trained on how to record disputes resolved by their principals both manually and via the ‘sulhu scribe’ software specially designed for the traditional ruler councils. MCN has now trained 2,442 traditional rulers and 2,277 scribes in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

“Before the training, the district heads were not well acquainted with the laws and conflict resolution strategies. We wish the training had come earlier but we will make good use of the knowledge and skills acquired.”

Musa Ismaila Manza, District Head, Uba, Uba Emirate Council, Borno State

“We have learnt a lot about constitutional provisions, family law and alternative dispute resolution and are better equipped to handle conflicts between farmers and herders.”

Abba Kyari Terab, District Head, Dususman, Jere LGA, Borno State

“We now know more about human rights and the rights of women. We are ready to do our best to protect their rights as we lead and resolve disputes.”

Zanna Daniel Aji Maina, District Head, Chibok Whuntaku, Borno Emirate Council

“The training provided us a platform to learn and network.”

Alhaji Umaru A. Muazu, District Head, Sorau, Mubi Emirate Council, Adamawa State

CPSP initiatives reduce violence between farmers and herders in communities 

The initiatives of the community peace and safety partnerships (CPSP) to address growing concerns about the perennial conflicts between farmers and herders are helping to reduce tensions and stabilise relations between the groups in target local government areas.  

In Gulani, Yobe State, the CPSP received a report of conflicts between farmers and herders in some communities during its meeting held on 19 September 2020. Given the recurrent nature of the issue, the platform agreed to organise a roundtable involving both parties, traditional rulers, local council officials, and security agencies. During the advocacy meetings, it was agreed that since earlier measures had not been effective, sanctions based on cultural and religious beliefs of the communities should be invoked against those who persist in breaching the terms of the agreement. Feedback at the platform’s October meeting showed that both farmers and herders have exercised more restraint as a result of the fear of traditional and religious sanctions. This has led to a noticeable de-escalation of tension and no reported damage to farmland and livestock. 

The Gulani platform had previously intervened to influence the local council to stop the unauthorised establishment of new farmland and prevent the encroachment on grazing routes that may trigger violent conflict. 

In Nguru LGA, Yobe State, the intervention of the CPSP platform helped to address lingering conflicts between farmers and herders caused by the grazing of cattle on farmland. The matter was aggravated by reports that herders were threatening affected farmers who reported incidents of encroachment to the authorities. At the insistence of the CPSP, the Emirate Council engaged the leaders of herder groups to take responsibility for ensuring that herders abide by the laws of the community and desist from activities that are likely to breach peace and undermine security. 

The CPSP in Fika LGA intervened to address the concern that underaged herders were allowing livestock to graze on farmland before farmers have completed harvesting, as reported at its October 2020 meeting. The CPSP organised a forum where leaders of herder groups agreed to sensitise their youths and regulate their movements. The forum also commended the affected farmers for seeking a peaceful resolution. Feedback shared at the meeting in November 2020 indicated a reduction in incidences of pre-harvest grazing on farmland.

“Since the roundtable was organised and the stakeholders were engaged, there has been no report of violence. Farmers and herders who have issues are now reporting them to traditional rulers and the police rather than resorting to self-help.”

ASP Agbo Inedu, Divisional Crime Officer, Nigeria Police Force, Nguru LGA, Yobe State

CPSP platforms address crime and community safety concerns 

Community Peace and Safety Partnership (CPSP) platforms have successfully initiated actions that are contributing to a reduction in crime and addressing safety concerns. In Mayo Belwa LGA, Adamawa State, the CPSP responded to a report that commercial tricycle and motorcycle operators were violating curfews. Community members were concerned that criminal elements had taken advantage of the operations of the commercial tricycle and motorcycle operators to kidnap and rob residents. Following CPSP advocacy with concerned trade unions, operators have been sensitised and there is an improvement in compliance with the curfew. The unions have commenced monitoring of operators. These measures have contributed to a reduction in kidnapping and robbery in the community.

The CPSP in Fika LGA, Yobe State received complaints that criminal elements have taken advantage of violation of curfews by commercial vehicle operators and passengers to rob people at night. A meeting was held with community leaders to sensitise the public on compliance with the curfew and to engage security agencies to ensure strict monitoring and enforcement of curfew rules. Feedback from stakeholders shows that security agencies have stepped up enforcement. This has led to reduction in the crime rate in the affected areas.

In Bade LGA, Yobe State, the CPSP has successfully advocated for enforcement of display of registration numbers on commercial vehicles operating in the area. This followed reports that vehicles without registration numbers were being used for criminal activities. The CPSP initiated meetings with transport unions and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC). Feedback shows that transporters have been sensitised and officials of the FRSC have commenced monitoring and enforcement. The actions have helped to reduce crime in the area.

The CPSP in Demsa LGA, Adamawa State has intervened to address boat mishaps, which have led to loss of lives and property. The accidents were caused by overloading as boat operators took advantage of a lack of regulations to exploit passengers. Following the decision of the CPSP to engage with stakeholders, the traditional authorities and the association of canoe operators have commenced sensitisation and adopted a policy on the maximum number of passengers that can board canoes. A team has been set up to monitor compliance and the CPSP has received feedback indicating compliance and fewer accidents.  

“The intervention improved compliance with the curfew and has significantly reduced kidnapping in the area.”

Halima Aliyu, Woman Leader, Mayo-Sanganare Ward, Mayo Belwa LGA, Adamawa State

“There have been no accidents since we started the sensitisation and adopted rules on the maximum number of passengers allowed for every type of boat.”

Levi Danpulo, Sarki Taru, Bwashi, Demsa LGA, Adamawa State

“Criminal activity has reduced since we started the enforcement of the display of registration numbers.”

Mohammed Jambo Katuru, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Bade LGA, Yobe State

CPSP initiatives help address flooding and fire disasters in communities

Initiatives of the Community Peace and Safety Partnerships (CPSP) are helping communities respond to threats of flooding and other environmental hazards. In Geidam, Yobe State, the CPSP received a report in its July 2020 meeting that the dumping of refuse in drainage ditches was contributing to flooding in the town. The CPSP met the local council authorities on the report and a decision was taken to sensitise the public on the dangers of flooding and to establish a sanitation monitoring team to prevent the dumping of refuse in drainage areas. The local council has since organised the community sensitization and set up a monitoring team. There is evidence of improved compliance and safe refuse disposal. 

In Mayo Belwa, Adamawa State, the chairman of the Emergency Response Team informed the CPSP that residents were not taking measures to mitigate the risks from seasonal flooding of Mayo Belwa River. The CPSP engaged the local council and community leaders to sensitise their communities on measures required to prevent loss of lives and property. Sensitisation events were organised which led to community leaders voicing their concerns about the threat of gully erosion caused by the seasonal flooding as the river overflows its bank. The CPSP has commenced advocacy on how this might be addressed. 

Fika CPSP in Yobe State responded to concerns of potential fire disaster caused by unsafe practice of community members bringing their cornstalk home. This led to sensitisation by the local authorities, community leaders and women associations. In November 2020, stakeholders reported that the sensitisation was successfully organised and that communities have started seeing the results as no fire incidents have been reported. 

“The residents responded well and have helped us to address the issue of blocked drainage.”

Bala Bomai, Assistant Secretary, Office of District Head, Geidam, Yobe State

“The sensitisation has yielded great results. No fire disaster has been reported since then.”

Halima Aliyu, Woman Leader, Mayo-Sanganare Ward, Mayo Belwa LGA, Adamawa State

CPSP platforms intervene to fight sexual and gender-based violence

The growing awareness and concern about the rise of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as result of sensitisation initiatives supported by the MCN Programme, has led to several Community Peace and Safety Partnerships (CPSPs) taking steps to address the issue. 

The Biu CPSP in Borno State received a report that property owners in an area of the town called ‘Kampala’ were sub-letting their apartments for hire by commercial sex workers leading to concerns that the neighbourhood was becoming a red-light district. The CPSP engaged with the local council authorities, traditional rulers and law enforcement agencies on the issue. The intervention led to the eviction of the commercial sex workers from the apartments and arrests were made by law enforcement agents. Many of those arrested were released after counselling. Another result from the actions initiated by the CPSP is the acceptance of the High Court in Biu to prioritise the hearing of SGBV cases.

The Bayo CPSP in Borno State intervened after receiving a report of sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls. Engagement with community leaders led to prompt action to identify and arrest the culprits. The local vigilantes were mobilised to monitor the movement of young girls into homes suspected to be used for the criminal activity. Although no arrest has been recorded, it was reported in October 2020 that the monitoring is producing results as suspicious movements of young girls to houses on the watchlist have reduced.

The Bayo CPSP also responded to a report that some men were enticing young boys with gifts of motorcycles to become their sex partners. The CPSP advocacy to community leaders and law enforcement agencies prompted an investigation and one known culprit reportedly fled the area. The local vigilante has been mobilised to embark on surveillance and feedback indicates that the perpetrators have stopped the practice.

The Gujba CPSP in Yobe State received complaints of young girls putting their lives at risk by undertaking unsafe abortions. Many of the girls were said to be victims of sexual exploitation when they were hawking goods for survival. Given previous failed attempts to end hawking, which is crucial to the survival of many families in the area, the platform agreed to engage the traditional ruler and religious leaders on the dangers of hawking and abortion for young girls. Religious leaders have since commenced preaching on these issues in their respective Friday and Sunday homilies. Also, the Emir directed that a monitoring team comprising both formal and informal security agencies and youth groups should be formed to monitor the movements of young girls involved in hawking. It was reported that the monitoring teams involving the police, Hisbah, civil defence, and youth associations are now active in the wards. 

The CPSP in Nguru LGA, Yobe State responded to a report that a resident was hosting young women involved in commercial sex work in his compound. The intervention of the platform, which worked in collaboration with the Shariah Committee in the Local Council, led to the eviction of the tenants and their relocation from the area.  

“As women leader in this community, I am pleased with the way the CPSP mobilised the traditional rulers, local council officials, and security agents to stop the sexual exploitation of women.”

Majira Larai Mai Umar, Women leader, Biu Emirate Council, Borno State 

“Although we realise that the women engaged in commercial sex work do so for economic survival, the CPSP intervention has enabled every stakeholder, including the courts, to get involved in ending it. The courts have agreed to give special attention to cases of SGBV.”

Danladi Adamu, Youth representative, Biu Emirate Council, Borno State 


Yobe adopts the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act

On 20 December 2020, Yobe State became the 19th state in the Nigerian federation to adopt the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act. This followed the passage of the bill through the Yobe State House of Assembly. Once assented by the Executive Governor, the bill will become law. Since the passage of the legislation by the Nigerian National Assembly in 2015, states in the federation have been slow to domesticate the law, which is aimed at tackling sexual and gender-based violence as well as other forms of violence against persons. The non-domestication of the VAPP has hindered the prosecution and conviction of sexual offenders, creating an environment of impunity and reinforcing the culture of silence. 

The absence of this law in the state was a major concern of stakeholders who participated in a policy dialogue on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) organised by the MCN programme in Damaturu in January 2020. Against this background, MCN supported advocacy by the Yobe State Steering Committee of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to engage with the legislators on the domestication of the VAPP. 

Following the interest of the state legislature, MCN supported a stakeholder workshop, which reviewed the VAPP Bill and adapted it to the Yobe context. The programme provided technical assistance to the relevant committee of the House of Assembly and supported the participation of civil society and interested community members in the public hearing organised by the House of Assembly. 

The passage of the VAPP Act is a clear demonstration of the commitment of the leadership of the state to address SGBV. Yobe State is the second in the North East region and sixth state in Northern Nigeria to domesticate the VAPP. 

“Rape is becoming rampant not just in Yobe and Nigeria, but the entire world. We in Yobe feel it is necessary to do all we can to curtail the menace.”

Hon. Buba Kalallawa, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, Yobe State House of Assembly 

Yobe adopts protocol for the investigation and prosecution of cases of sexual and gender-based violence 

The government of Yobe State has formally adopted a protocol for the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The formal adoption took place on 25 November 2020 in Damaturu as part of activities organised by stakeholders to commemorate the 2020 16 Days of Activism on ending sexual and gender-based violence. 

The preparation of the protocol arose from observations on the rising number of cases of sexual offences that did not lead to the conviction of offenders in the state. One contributory factor was identified as a lack of capacity amongst investigators and prosecutors handling SGBV cases in courts. 

The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme responded to stakeholder concerns by organising training for the investigators and prosecutors in the handling of sexual offences. Feedback from participants at the capacity building workshop, was that having a document that provides guidance on the procedures for investigating and prosecuting cases would make their job easier. 

The MCN Programme provided technical assistance for the preparation of the document and organised a validation workshop for review and adoption of the protocol. 

“The protocol - the first of its kind in Nigeria - is a great resource for addressing SGBV. We have started sharing experiences with some neighbouring states who are interested in replicating the initiative.”

Hon. Sale Samanja, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Yobe State

Traditional rulers, legislators and civil society participate in 16 days of activism against sexual and gender-based violence

The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme mobilised a wide range of stakeholders to participate in activities to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against Sexual and Gender-based violence in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. Notable among activities organised by stakeholders with the support of MCN Programme are the following: 

In Yobe State, Bade Emirate Council organised a sensitisation event to increase awareness on rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the council area. The event, held on 5 December 2020, was organised in conjunction with the State Ministry of Women Affairs. The sensitisation stemmed from concerns by stakeholders about rising cases of SGBV involving young boys. One of the major achievements of the programme was the announcement by HRH Alhaji Abubakar Umar Suleiman, Emir of Bade, on the establishment of the ‘Movement Against Sexual Abuse’ foundation he was dedicating to fight SGBV. 

The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme supported the Yobe State SARC Steering Committee to convene a dialogue on access to justice for survivors of SGBV. The dialogue, which was held in Damaturu on 2 December 2020, discussed the different factors undermining efforts to get justice for survivors of SGBV and their families. Notable among participants at the event were the Chief Registrar of the Sharia Court, the State Police Force Public Relations Officer, the Director of Public Prosecution of the Ministry of Justice, the Director at the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and the Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

The MCN Programme collaborated with the Spotlight Programme to organise a capacity building programme for social media influencers in Damaturu on 2 December 2020. Social media enthusiasts were trained on how to use their platforms to raise awareness on the significance of 16 Days of Activism against SGBV, stimulate conversations on sexual offences, and the opportunities for using social media platforms for reporting and responding to incidences.

In Adamawa State, the Humanitarian Innovation Foundation (HIF), with the support of MCN, organised a social media rally to raise awareness on SGBV on various social media platforms. The rally culminated in the engagement of influencers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to post messages SGBV awareness as well as activists marking the 16 days of activism. Influencers were presented with ‘Orange the world’ gift boxes as part of the rally.

HIF organised a quiz competition for secondary students from selected schools in Adamawa State. 48 students and 32 teachers participated in the quiz competition that also provided an opportunity to raise awareness on SGBV and the 16 days of activism. Students are one of the groups most at risk of sexual violence. The quiz tested the knowledge of students on different types of sexual offences, the dangers of culture of silence, the channels for reporting SGBV, and how to support those affected. 

After the four rounds, students from the Federal Government College in Yola emerged victorious and along with the first and second runners up, received prizes at the closing ceremony on 10 December 2020. During the closing event, the students joined the campaign against SGBV by sending group messages that were disseminated on social media platforms. 

HIF organised a rally of civil society organisations and human rights activists to the Adamawa State House of Assembly to sensitise them on the rising incidences of sexual and gender-based violence and the need for laws that impose stiffer penalties for sexual offenders. The rally was well received by the legislature, which opted to wear orange-coloured clothes in solidarity with the 16 days of activism. Rt Hon. Aminu Iya Abubakar, speaker of the House of Assembly, assured the rally that the Assembly will soon pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill into law.

Over 50 participants featured in a webinar organised by HIF to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism on SGBV on 7 December 2020. The participants discussed the actions required to tackle rising incidence of SGBV. Leaders from religious and traditional authorities highlighted the need to address the culture of silence; enhance the capacity of law enforcement and the courts to prosecute sexual offences; enact unambiguous laws that allow for stiffer penalties required to deter offenders; and ensure accountability of governments on addressing drivers of SGBV. 

Prominent speakers at the webinar included Dr. Hamira Welye of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Kiki Mordi author of the BBC award-winning documentary on sexual violence in tertiary institutions (Sex for Grade), Farida Adamu of ResearchNG, Asmau Leo of Centre for Nonviolence and Gender Advocacy in Nigeria, and Joy Aderele of Mercy Corps. 

In Borno State, the Peace Ambassadors Centre for Humanitarian Aid and Empowerment (PACHAE) organised a webinar on protection of survivors and access to justice on 8 December 2020. The webinar provided an opportunity to highlight the different challenges encountered in efforts to protect and support survivors to get justice.  Prominent among issues to be addressed are late reporting of cases, lack of resources for effective investigation, dearth of safe spaces for survivors, and loopholes in laws and legal processes.

Speakers at the webinar were Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr. Zainab Chellube of the Peace Ambassadors Centre, Mary Stephen, Gender Desk Officer of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Barr. Abba Mallam Umate, Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).


Community accountability forums contribute to strengthening law enforcement 

Initiatives of the Community Accountability Forums (CAFs) supported by the Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme are strengthening the bond between communities and law enforcement agencies. There is growing interest in the CAFs among security officers who consider them to be important and effective platform for mobilising the public to participate in law enforcement.

In Yobe State, the platforms facilitated by the Communal Support Foundation (COSFON) in Bade, Geidam, Nguru and Potiskum intervened to address concerns of community members and law enforcement agencies on crime prevention and management.

Starting at the forum held on 7 October, the Bade CAF helped to address the erosion of public trust of law enforcement officers due to their reported involvement in human rights violations. The CAF acted in response to complaints from community members that officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were involved in illegal detention and maltreatment of detainees. The CAF steering committee later engaged different formations of the NSCDC in the LGA on the issue. At the CAF held on 7 December 2020, participants confirmed that violations have reduced since a roundtable was organised by the local council on the matter.

Another success story reported at the Bade CAF is the response of the police, civil defence, and vigilantes to a reported increase in activities of criminals at the grain market in Gashua. The criminals reportedly robbed farmers and traders after they had sold their goods at the market. Some concerned community members had taken the laws into their hands and lynched a person suspected of attempting to rob a trader. The CAF resolved to engage with formal and informal security operators to adopt more effective measures to contain the activities of the criminals. At the December meeting of the CAF, it was reported that security actors had responded to the advocacy of the CAF Steering Committee by increasing surveillance in the affected locations. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the crime rate in the areas.

In the Nguru LGA, the CAF interventions helped to address the reported destruction of farmland and grain stores by stray domestic animals. This followed the efforts of the local council to sensitise the public on the penalties for persons who allow their domestic animals to damage crops belonging to other people. The Nguru CAF has also helped to address mounting tensions between transporters and pedestrians on parking in unauthorised locations, as well as tensions between community members and some youths involved in gambling which often leads to fighting and breach of peace.   

The Geidam CAF responded to concerns of community members that the curfew imposed by the military Joint Task Force (JTF) was adversely affecting socio-economic activities. When engaged on the matter by the CAF steering committee, the JTF said the measures were required to address the recent upsurge in attacks by insurgent groups and called for understanding of members of the public. Community members are reported to have accepted the explanation provided by the JTF. The CAF also influenced the local government council to commence public sensitisation on existing regulations on the control of movements of domestic animals. The action has resulted in a significant reduction in reports of destruction caused by stray animals. The response has assuaged youths in the community who were mobilising against owners of domestic animals that destroy property of others. 

In Potiskum, the interventions of the CAF helped to douse tensions between members of the public and staff of the General Hospital over neglect and disrespect of patients as well as between users of market from different ethnic groups over use of bicycle in the central market. 

“Given the enormous task of policing in a place as large as Maiha (which has only 50 policemen), the CAF has provided an effective structure of communication between the police and the community. I am leveraging on the CAF platform to ensure security in the area and will promote its replication.” 

DSP Olaoluwa Fred Aljesebutu, Divisional Police Officer, Maiha, Adamawa State

“We are happy that the law enforcement agencies are keeping their promise to prevent human rights violations by security officers.” 

Sadautu Maisule, Focal Person, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Bade LGA, Yobe State

“We commend the proactive action of the vigilante group in scaling up surveillance. This has significantly reduced petty crimes in the market.” 

Alhaji Babangida Sabo, Chairman, Bade Amalgamated Marketers Association, Bade LGA, Yobe State

“The report from CAF helped us to discover and prohibits illegal motor parks. The action has reduced tensions between transporters and pedestrians.” 

Lawan Isa Gana, Security Officer, Nguru Local Government Council, Nguru LGA, Yobe State


MCN supports television and radio drama on COVID-19 pandemic

There has been growing concern about the level of scepticism among Nigerians on the reality and dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was documented by the MCN-commissioned study on the implications of COVID-19 for conflict dynamics, gender relations and social inclusion. In response, MCN has supported the production and airing of a drama series on COVID-19. The drama series, which aired on radio and television stations in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, situate the threat of COVID-19 within the context of insurgency, population displacement, sexual violence, and poverty in the region. The series premiered on Yobe Broadcasting Cooperation (YBC), Damaturu and Peace FM, Maiduguri on 21 December 2020, and is also being aired on Borno Radio and Television (BRTV), Maiduguri, Gotel Radio and Television, Yola. 

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