Citizens' Gavel

Citizen Gavel
Official logo of Citizens' Gavel.png
Founded7 May 2017; 4 years ago (2017-05-07) in Yaba, Lagos, Lagos State,
Nigeria
FounderNelson Olanipekun
TypeNonprofit
NGO
HeadquartersLagos, WC1
Nigeria
Location
  • Nigeria
ServicesProtecting human rights
FieldsLegal advocacy, Media attention, direct-appeal campaigns, research, lobbying
Nelson Olanipekun
Websitegavel.ng

Citizens' Gavel (also known as Tech for Justice or Gavel) is a civic tech organization aimed at improving the pace of justice delivery through the use of technology. It was established in 2017 as Open Justice by Nelson Olanipekun, from an incubation programme of Civic Hive; the incubation and media arm of BudgIT.

History

Gavel, a product of an incubation programme of Civic Hive (the incubation and media arm of BudgIT) was established in 2017 in Lagos and later opened an office Ibadan in Oyo State and Abuja. It was founded by Nelson Olanipekun, a law graduate from the Ekiti State University. It was known as Open Justice at the time of establishment.

Structure

Citizens' Gavel operates from offices in Ibadan, Lagos and Abuja. The head of the organization is addressed as the Team Leader and he also happens to be the founder of the organization. Gavel has 16 full-time staff and works with over 150 lawyers across 19 states of Nigeria. Gavel set up 2 arms to create diversification in their approach. These arms are JusticeLab and Podus. JusticeLab is focused on addressing systemic issues by responding to issues around weakness in the judicial system of Nigeria especially in areas it affects citizens. Podus is focused on linking citizens who have suffered or are suffering from security agency brutality to lawyers. Podus is already on the Google Play Store and it works like Uber such that victims can log into the app, enter in their issue/case and a lawyer within their vicinity can be alerted to assist them.

Objectives and Principles

The objectives of Citizens' Gavel is to use technology in accelerating justice delivery within the legal framework of Nigeria. This they do by linking those who cannot afford legal counsel to Pro bono lawyers. Also, they aim at using technology to digitise the activities of the court for public use to make a transparent judicial system in Nigeria. Gavel operates by four major tech tools and products, which are the Justice Clock, Timeline of cases, infographics, and digitized cause list. Another objective of the organization is advocating for the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law.

Activities

Release of prisoners detained longer than necessary

In 2017, the organisation filed a class action suit for over 538 awaiting trial persons against the relevant prosecuting agencies in Oyo State. The category of people being represented were already spending many years in prison (some event spent more than 7 years) instead of not more than 28 days before being charged to court. The organisation through its tech tool, were also able to digitise cause lists in over 30 courts across Nigeria so as to improve cooperation among stakeholders in the justice sector and also ascertain the speed at which criminal trials are being dispensed. They also released close to 10 inmates from prison and we provided free legal representation for over 20 inmates. All these were achieved using a tool they created called Justice Clock. This tech tool tracks time spent by persons awaiting trial. The tool compares the time spent in prison to the time provided in the law

On Police Brutality

In April 2019, Citizens' Gavel challenged the Nigerian Police Force to conduct mental health assessment on the officers or face legal action. This came after the killing of Kolade Johnson by an officer of the State Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) in Lagos The organization challenged the government of Oluwaseyi Makinde of Oyo State to make the justice sector a priority because of the reported cases of police brutality in the State.

Digital rights promotion

In August 2019, Gavel signed a Memorandum of understanding with Paradigm Initiative, (a social enterprise that builds a tech-enabled support system while advocating for digital rights to improve lifestyle of under-served youth) to provide legal support to advance the promotion and protection of digital rights in Nigeria as well as educating the public about digital rights and its laws in Nigeria.

End SARS

End SARS was a social media movement on Twitter in 2018 led by Segun Awosanya and Citizens' Gavel to stop the brutal acts of the State Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force. The movement led to mentions by celebrities and politicians which finally led to the end of the operation and rebranding into FSARS.

DSS vs Sowore

On the 7th of December 2019, Gavel wrote to Clement Boutillier of the European Union to blacklist the Department of State Services (DSS) over the rearrest of Omoyele Sowore, convener of Revolution Now Movement. This was after the DSS operatives stormed the Federal High Court, Abuja to rearrest Sowore. The organization also asked the EU to place a travel ban on the DSS leaders.

Funding

Gavel was able to raise about $225,000 up till 2019.

Controversies

After the establishment of Operation Amotekun, the founder and Team Leader, Nelson Olanipekun addressed the public on the operation on behalf of the organization debunking the comments of the Attorney general of the federation Abubakar Malami that the operation was illegal which was a very controversial issue at the said time.


This page was last updated at 2021-12-17 03:21 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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