Abuja, April 29, 2019 Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, has stressed the need to mainstream human rights into the operations of the security agencies involved in counter insurgency operations.
Ojukwu made the call in an address of welcome at a security and human rights stakeholders’ dialogue and presentation of report on mainstreaming human rights in countering violent extremism in Nigeria in Abuja on Monday.
“It is against this background that the commission undertook the training of security personnel on the need to mainstream human rights into their counter insurgency operations.
While acknowledging that the security agents had every right to protect themselves when attacked, Ojukwu stressed the need for them to exercise caution and follow the rule of law where their attackers were arrested.
Mr Ibrahim Chonoku who represented the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, said the forces were guided by stringent laws, pointing out that they were not infallible and therefore, prone to make mistakes sometimes.
He said that issues of human rights must be contextualised so as not to weaken the military in the process of trying to ensure the protection of the rights of citizens.
He said the police and the army not to be persecuted for doing their constitutional responsibilities as the security agents also had rights that must be protected.
A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Ochogwu Ogbe, who represented the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, stressed the need for continued sensitisation of the citizens on the responsibilities of security agents.
He further noted that human rights were not absolute rights and just as the citizens expected their rights to be respected, they must also respect the rights of the security agents
The Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Mr Benson Olugbuo, a Non Governmental Organisation, said personnel of Nigeria Police and Nigerian Army had been implicated in human rights abuses.
“The most violated by these security organisations within the past four years are right to life, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from torture and freedom of expression and information,’’ Olugbuo said.
He said that CLEEN made contacts with 3,038 effective contacts in four local government areas, two each from Borno and Plateau states, to arrive at its conclusions.
“Borno and Plateau states were selected to gauge citizens’ perception of human rights violations in relation to government efforts to address pressing security challenges.
“Both Borno and Plateau states have suffered severe impact of extreme violence in northern Nigeria.
“While Borno is located in the North East where the impact of Boko Haram insurgency has been greatest, Plateau is in the North Central where clashes between herdsmen and farmers have been most frequent and pervasive.”
He said that the foundation discovered that roadblocks and checkpoints were the most notorious for human rights abuses and that there was a lack of trust in authorities to redress human rights violations.
He also noted the need for civil society engagement to be escalated to put pressure and prevail on political, military and security leaders to re-evaluate the use of roadblocks and checkpoints in internal security management among others.