When Faced With Discrimination On The Job:
- Remain calm.
- Inform the offending party that you believe his/her actions are discriminatory.
- Report the discriminatory action in writing to company management.
- Begin documenting the discrimination by saving memos, keeping a detailed journal, noting the presence of witnesses, and making written complaints (keep copies). Create a “paper trail.”
- Contact the local or state civil rights agencies to educate yourself about legal options you may have to deal with the situation.
- Contact a solicitor to discuss your case.
- DO NOT sign any documents or resign without a solicitor’s advice.
- Ask to be transferred to another department or job site.
- Ask for mediation.
- Contact MPAC to file a report and also log the incident here.
- Consider looking for a new job.
What If You Suspect Surveillance?
Prudence is the best course; no matter who you suspect, or what the basis of your suspicion. Do not hesitate to confront suspected agents politely, in public, with at least one other person present, and inquire about their business. If the suspect declines to answer, he or she at least now knows that you are aware of the surveillance. If you suspect government agents are monitoring you, or are harassing you, report this to the Legal Aid, Legal Support (of the International Centre for Nigerian Law) or any other such legal organization that might be able to assist process your case. Know, however, that it is easy for these agencies to monitor your telephone calls, conversations in your office, home, car, or meeting place, as well as mail. E-mail is particularly insecure.
Reacting To Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes:
If you believe you have been the victim of a hate crime, you should:
- Report the crime to your local police station immediately. Ask that the incident be treated as a hate crime. Follow up with investigators. Inform MPAC even if you believe it is a “small” incident.
- Document the incident. Write down exactly what was said and/or done by the offender. Save evidence. Take photographs.
- Act quickly. Each incident must be dealt with when it happens, not when convenient.
- Decide on the appropriate action to be taken. Consider issuing a statement from community leaders, holding a news conference, organizing a protest, meeting with officials, or starting a letter writing campaign.
- Mobilize community support. Contact MPAC and a local mosque or organization.
- Stay on top of the situation.
- Announce results. When the incident is resolved, make an announcement to the same people and organizations originally contacted.
If The Police Or SSS Contacts You:
MPAC supports strong and responsible law enforcement to serve and protect our communities and the society. We treasure our God-given rights even in the preservation of the integrity of effective policing and law enforcement. The Nigerian Constitution grants you the right to be politically active and to hold different beliefs/views. If you are visited by the Police, the SSS or any other law enforcement agency on faith-related matter when you have not acted against public good, remember:
1. You do not have to talk to the Police or the SSS agents. You have no obligation to talk to them even if you are not a Nigerian citizen (The police must allow your consul to visit or speak with you. Your consul might assist you in finding a lawyer or offer other help, such as contacting your family). Never meet with them or answer any questions without a lawyer present. Refusing to answer questions cannot be held against you; rather it is whatever you say that can and will be held against you. It does not imply that you have something to hide when you refuse to talk to them or answer questions until your lawyer is present. If you are nervous about simply refusing to talk, ask them to contact your lawyer. Also note that once you have been arrested, you cannot talk your way out of it! So it is best not to try to engage the police or SSS agents in dialogue or respond to their accusations at this time.
2. You have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. You do not have to permit them to enter your home or office. Police, SSS and other agents must possess a valid search warrant in order to enter your house. The warrant must specifically describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. If they have a warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching, but you should still tell them that you do not consent to a search. This will limit them to the scope of the search authorized by the warrant. If they say they have a warrant, demand to see it before allowing them to enter. Even if they have a warrant, you are still under no obligation to answer questions. You have the right to observe what they do. You have the right to ask them for their names and titles. Take written notes including their names, badge numbers, and what agency they are from. Have your friends who are present act as witnesses. Give this information to your lawyer. Once again, remember that a warrant does not give the government or the law enforcement agencies the right to question, nor does it obligate you to answer questions.
3. Never lie or provide false information. It is better to refuse to answer any questions. Lying to law enforcement agents is a crime. Contact a solicitor or MPAC for advice. Police and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it will appear as if they have something to hide. Do not be fooled. The police are allowed to (and do) lie to you. Although agents may seem nice and pretend to be on your side, they are likely to be intent on learning about the habits, opinions, and affiliations of people not suspected of wrongdoing, with the end goal of stopping political activity with which the government disagrees. Trying to answer agents’ questions or trying to educate them about your cause can be very dangerous. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information that you give them might be used and misconstrued to hurt you or someone else. And keep in mind that lying to a law enforcement agent is a crime.
N.B. The points provided are not intended to give legal advice to readers. For legal information, please visit legal information websites, Federal Ministry of Justice site, or the Nigerian Human Rights Commission.