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NHRC orders investigation into alleged torture of driver by Cross-River Magistrate

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday called for thorough investigation into the allegations into a case of alleged torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of an official driver attached a Cross River Magistrate.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, made the call in a statement on the alleged torture.

He stated that the 35-year-old driver was allegedly beaten by the sons of Magistrate Agnes Onyebueke (under her directives) for being rude to her.

“Information reaching the Commission, revealed that since assumption of duty with the said Magistrate, the driver has perpetually been subjected to series inhuman and degrading treatments.

“These degrading treatment ranged from verbal, physical assaults and other forms of oppression.

“This particular one  has left him with a broken rib, legs and bursted eye.

“There’s no justification for any form of human rights violation by anybody, especially those looked upon as the custodians of the law based on fairness and equity,” he said.

He therefore directed the Cross-River Coordinator of the Commission to collaborate with the state Commissioner of Police and relevant authorities and immediately commence a full-scale investigation into the matter with a view to ensuring that there is accountability for the human rights violations.

“If it is found that the magistrate and her sons have a case to answer, the Commission would collaborate with the relevant authorities to ensure that justice is done.

” All the stakeholders in the Criminal Justice Administration system including the National Judicial Council, should ensure that perpetrators of any form of human rights abuse/violation, no matter how highly placed, are brought to justice.

“Their victims must also be adequately compensated as prescribed by Nigerian law” he said.

In another development, Ojukwu also commended the Akwa Ibom Police Command over the action taken to penalise an erring police official for assaulting a medical personnel on duty as the country battles to contain the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The commission also commend the Military for identifying and arresting the officers involved in the death of a civilian in Delta as well as those who posted threat video on the social media.

Ojukwu enjoined all law enforcement agencies in all locations to ensure accountability for any human rights violations including sexual and gender based violence  during the enforcement of Covid-19 Regulations.

” There is need to reclaim the country from the impunity of individual officers and men who smear the name of our law enforcement agencies and the government, which has the ultimate responsibility for the protection of human rights” he said. (NAN )

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

Edith Nwapi: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

General news

Jos undergraduate’s killing: NHRC begins investigation

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The North Central Office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said it had began investigation into the killing of Rinji Bala, a 300 level student of the University of Jos.

Mrs Grace Pam, its Zonal Coordinator, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Jos, adding that the action had contravened the fundamental right to life as contained in the 1999 constitution as amended.

News Agency of Nigeria , recalls that the 20-year-old student, a resident of Hwolshe community in Jos South Local Government Area (LGA), of the state, was reportedly killed by a member of a security task force on May 12.

Bala was arrested that night alongside six others by the task force personnel who were on patrol, but was later released after interrogation, and having been found innocent.

The deceased was shot a few metres away from the gate of the sector by one of the members of the task force, where he and others were reportedly interrogated.

NAN also reports that the task force, through its Media Officer, Maj. Ibrahim Shittu, admitted and confirmed the incident, adding that the personnel involved in the act had been arrested and detained.

Pam promised that the commission would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the perpetrators were brought to book, in accordance with its mandate.

“The National Human Rights Commission has condemned in strong terms the torture and gruesome killing of Rinji Bala, a student of the University of Jos by security personnel.

“This is inhuman and a gross violation of his right to life as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended and other international human rights instruments that Nigeria is signatory to.

“Consequently,  the Commission has began investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the young man and will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to book.

“This is in line with the Commission’s mandate of monitoring, investigating and enforcing human rights of all citizens,” she said.

Pam assured the family of the deceased and members of the public that the commission would not rest on its oars until all those involved in the destardly act were fished out and brought to Justice.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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NHRC releases guidelines for protection of COVID-19 patients

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday released a set of standard minimum guidelines to protect the rights of COVID-19 patients in treatment centres.

NHRC Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu, who released the guidelines during a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, said the move became necessary in view of alleged violations of the rights of patients in treatment centres in some parts of the country

He said in some cases, the violations of the rights of patients of the COVID -19 resulted into protests and abscondment of patients from the treatment centres.

“The commission deemed it fit to issue the set of guidelines in order to ensure that the basic rights of patients are guaranteed and protected,” he said.

While commending governments and health authorities at federal and state levels for the efforts already made to put facilities in place at the centres as well as other palliatives, Ojukwu urged them to, “Study and put mechanisms in place to implement the standard minimum guidelines.

” Governments have set up centres across Nigeria where COVID-19 patients are treated by medical personnel and other staff.

” As a result of the contagious nature of the virus,  extreme care must be taken to secure the human rights of the patients in the Centres.

” The guidelines are aimed at ensuring that the Centres operate in line with international human rights norms and to secure the rights  of the patients,  medical  personnel and support staff.

” It is also important that vulnerable groups such as children, persons with disabilities older persons and women are treated with the dignity and protection accorded their status ” he said.

Ojukwu said that the guidelines were made pursuant to section 5 (a)(d)(I) and 6 (g) of the NHRC Act.

The NHRC’s chief said that guidelines were composed of  the rights of life, health,  dignity,  privacy,  religion and protection against discrimination.

” It also contains provisions aimed at ensuring access to adequate accommodation, food,  water and sanitation by patients at treatment centres and facilities (hereinafter referred to as the Centres) in Nigeria” he stated.

Ojukwu,who urged governments to implement the guidelines,added that the guidelines would be  useful to public and private centres and other facilities were  COVID-19 patients were being treated.

” The rights and guarantees enunciated in the guidelines applies to any patient or persons who have suffered violations in accordance with the Constitution.

” The Commission when requested,  shall provide technical support in designing the systems  and frameworks for implementation of the guidelines.

” It shall also monitor,  investigate, enforce and issue periodic reports  on the implementation of the guidelines” he  said. (NAN)

Edited /Sadiya Hamza

 

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NHRC receives 104 complaints of alleged human rights violations

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strong>The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has received 104 complaints and incidents of alleged human rights violation between April 27 and May 3

Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of NHRC, made this known on Monday in a report released in Abuja on the incidence of violation of human rights during the previous lockdown.

NAN reports that Ojukwu had a report released on April 15, said the commission received 105 complaints and incidents of alleged human rights violation between March 30 and April 13.

”Out of 104 complaints/incidents of human rights violations received and documented within the period, 49 complaints were received/documented within the first week of the extended lock down period, i.e. from April 13 to April 20,

”33 complaints were received during the 2nd week (i.e. from April 20 to April 27. During the 3rd week (i.e from April 27 to May 4, only 23 complaints/incidents were received/documented by the Commission.

” This shows weekly reduction in complaints received” he stated.

Ojukwu stated that the report also documents the various thematic areas in which the violations occurred, the nature of the violations.

”It  shows a reduction in the total number of complaints on human rights violations received/documented by the Commission from 105 (as contained in the first report released by the Commission on April 14.

‘This shows an improvement of the state of human rights in the enforcement of Covid 19 Regulations by law enforcement officers, Task Forces on Covid 19 and other non-state actors” he said.

According to Ojukwu, this improvement  is attributed to the level of awareness created by the Commission following the release of its initial report of April 14, 2020

He added also the the reduction was the efforts to ensure accountability and adherence to the rules of engagement on the part of Law Enforcement Agencies.

Also, the disaggregated data on state reported violations, the agencies of Government responsible for the violations as well as the response/action taken to remedy the violations.

” The report shows that Enugu State has the highest recorded cases with 13 incidents unlike Lagos State that had the highest cases with 28 incidents in the earlier Report released on April 14 by the Commission.

” This is followed by Imo which had 12 incidents, Akwa Ibom and Nasarawa recorded 10 incidents each, while Delta and Abia recorded nine and seven incidents respectively.

” Niger, Zamfara, Osun and Rivers recorded three incidents each, Anambra, Jigawa, Bayelsa and Edo recorded two incidents each; while Ogun, Kogi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Kano, Cross River and Ekiti recorded one incident each” he said.

Ojukwu said that the report shows some improvement and restraint in enforcement of the lockdown on the part of law enforcement officials.

He added that this followed the public outrage and condemnation by all levels of authorities in the government, judiciary, the legislature and the executive as well as civil society.

“Accordingly, a protocol has been established between the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and the Commission to ensure accountability for the violations in line with the statement of the President that all alleged human rights violations will be investigated and accountability brought to bear for them.

” To date, all the alleged violations have been communicated to the oversight Ministries of the law enforcement agencies for full investigation and accountability. These are namely, Ministries of, Police Affairs, Defence and Interior

”The accountability steps taken by each of the law enforcement agencies should be communicated to the Commission within one month of the release of this report, and subsequently on monthly basis” he said.

The commission, he said, will henceforth give monthly update on the reports from the various Law Enforcement agencies, of accountability steps taken, as well as report where no action is taken.

He added that hopefully,  each of the security agencies will in the very near future identify, make public and communicate same to the Commission, the name of very senior Desk officer who will facilitate early resolution of complaints escalated to such agency.

” The Commission commends all law enforcement officers who have shown restraint and professionalism in the face of provocation by members of the public during the lock down.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Lockdown: NHRC receives 105 complaints of alleged human rights violations

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The National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) has received 105 complaints and incidents of alleged human rights violation between March 30 and April 13.

Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of NHRC, made this known on Wednesday in a report released in Abuja on the incidence of violation of human rights during the previous lockdown.

He said that the incidents were reported from 24 states.

The executive secretary said that Lagos State had the highest recorded cases with 28 incidents followed by the FCT, which has 10 recorded cases.

Ojukwu commended  many members of the public who actually placed calls and sent-in videos in response to the call to join hands with the Commission to monitor human rights violations during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

“This report therefore documents the various incidents of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by security agencies and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) by other actors during the initial lockdown.

“It also documents the various thematic areas in which the violations occurred, the nature of the violations, the disaggregated data on states where violations were reported, the agencies of Government responsible for the violations as well as the response/action taken to remedy the violations,” he said.

The states covered in the report, Ojukwu said, are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue; Cross Rivers, FCT, Ebonyi  Edo; Enugu, Ekiti , Delta  Gombe , Imo  Kaduna state; Katsina, Kogi,  Kwara ,Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger Ogun, Osun, Plateau and Rivers .

He said that Enugu State recorded nine incidents followed by Abia, Delta and Nasarawa States which recorded seven,  six and five  incidents respectively.

He said further that Rivers  recorded five incidents while Imo recorded  four incidents

He added that Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Kaduna and Ebonyi  recorded three incidents each; while Kwara, Osun, Benue and Niger States recorded two incidents each.

He also said that  Edo, Adamawa, Ogun, Cross River, Kogi, Bayelsa, Katsina and Plateau  recorded one incident each.

“The report shows that complaints  were received and documented in the following thematic areas: extra-judicial killings, violation of right to freedom of movement, unlawful arrest and detention,

“Seizures/confiscation of properties, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), discrimination, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and extortion.

“There were eight documented incidents of extra-judicial killings leading to 18 deaths.

“Out of this number, 12 deaths were recorded in Kaduna State , two in Abia arising from two incidents; while Delta, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina  recorded one death each,” he said.

Ojukwu said  that the record speaks volumes of the protocols and rules of engagement for our law enforcement as well as the efficiency level and capacity of law enforcement agents to deal with the civil population.

According to him, it  is a sheer display of impunity and reckless disregard for human life in law enforcement by security personnel.

He revealed that the report  showed further that out of the 18 deaths, the Nigeria Correctional Service was responsible for eight deaths while the Nigeria Police Force was responsible for seven deaths.

“The Nigeria Army on the other hand was responsible for two deaths while the Ebonyi  Task Force on Covid-19, Afikpo South Local Government Area was responsible for one death.

“Other types of violations recorded within the period include 33 incidents of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, 27 incidents of violation of right to freedom of movement, unlawful arrests and detention.

” 19 incidents of seizure/confiscation of properties, 13 incidents of extortion, four incidents of SGBV, and one incident of discrimination in the distribution of food items.

“The report finds that the Nigeria Police Force accounted for about 90 per cent of the total cases of violations followed by the Nigeria Army and Nigeria Correctional Service and other non-state actors,” he said.

Ojukwu said further that the report also found that 31 incidents of violations representing about 29 per cent of the complaints have been resolved by different security agencies.

“Given its mandate for the promotion and protection of human rights, the National Human Rights Commission on March 30, issued Advisory to security agencies to respect human rights in the enforcement of Covid-19 Regulations.

“This was followed by a Directive to staff of the Commission, CSOs and members of the Public on March 31 to document and report to the commission, any security agent violating human rights in their law enforcement duties while enforcing Covid-19 regulations.

“Hotlines were also circulated by the Commission to put this into effect.

“Security agencies were reminded to carry out the enforcement exercise in line with national human rights laws as well as international best practices to ensure that the rights of Nigerians are not unduly violated in the course of carrying out their law enforcement mandate,” he said.

Ojukwu said that NHRC in collaboration with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the UK Department of Foreign Investment and Development, the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation and the Switzerland Embassy have developed an App for the electronic monitoring, documentation and reporting of human rights violation including SGBV.

He promised that the Commission would be updating Nigerians with the state of human rights violations and SGBV during Covid-19 pandemic on weekly basis throughout the period of the lock down. (NAN )

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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COVID-19: NHRC condemns inhuman treatment meted out to Nigerians by Chinese authorities

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The National Human Rights Commission has expressed displeasure over the alleged inhuman treatment meted out on some Nigerians by the Chinese authorities in Beijing.

Mr Tony Ojukwu Executive Secretary of NHRC in a statement in Abuja stated , that the commission noted with concern the alleged inhuman treatment.

He said that the information at their disposal indicated that Nigerians and other African nationals have been singled out for forced quarantine despite undergoing an initial 14-day quarantine.

“Reports of ejection of some Nigerians from their homes and hotels by the Chinese authorities are clearly acts of discrimination and a gross violation of human rights.

” The Commission also notes with concern the reports of seizure of international passports belonging to Nigerians.

” This was not only a violation of international human rights norms but one that is capable of rendering Nigerians stateless in a time of global emergency when nations are evacuating their nationals to safety.

‘ The alleged maltreatment of Nigerians during an outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic when nations of the world are coalescing in unprecedented acts of solidarity and commitments should be condemned in all its forms” he said.

The Commission called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps in reaching out to the Chinese Government.

“There should be a stop to the harassment of Nigerians, Africans and indeed any citizen of the world in the guise of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

” In particular, we urge the Government of Nigeria to take all necessary steps to evacuate Nigerians willing to come home from China and other countries where they are currently at risk of discrimination or any form of racial abuse as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak” he said.

He also commended the immediate actions already taken by the Nigerian Mission in China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Femi Gbajabiamila.

Ojukwu stated that the Commission  will continue to monitor the human rights situation of Nigerians during and after the COVID-19 response.

He  also called on the public to report  any human rights violations, via call, text or WhatsApp  to NHRC hotlines: (Phone/Email) , (Phone/Email) , (Phone/Email) , (Phone/Email) (NAN )

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

 

 

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On World health day, NHRC commends health workers on frontline of Covid-19 fight 

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Tuesday commended the efforts of all health workers for their tireless efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria and the world over.

Mr Tony Ojukwu , Executive Secretary of NHRC gave the commendation in a statement  in Abuja, as the Commission joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Heath Day.

Ojukwu described the theme of this year’s celebration  ” support nurses and midwives” as very apt.

He said considering that the health workers including doctors, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, nurses and midwives, medics and paramedics, and everyone in the medical profession who put their lives on the line for the survival of others.

“With the scary pandemic which is indiscriminately claiming lives of thousands of health workers and people globally, our health workers are on the frontline, leaving behind their comfort and safety to give attention to those infected or affected with the deadly virus.

“Their sacrifice to protect the rights to health and life at a period like this cannot be under estimated”, he said.

He called Nigerians to strictly adhere to the medical guides given by the medical professionals, in other to ease the task of controlling the spread of the disease.

“We all have a role to play in the realisation of our rights to health during this period of fear and anxiety occasioned by the pandemic”, he said.

Similarly,  he commended the federal government on the proposed medical and life insurance for health workers who are the first responders to the Covid -19 patients.

“There is the need to be more proactive in addressing our medical concerns, like putting in place strong and sustainable primary health care services which can easily be accessed by the poor, elderly and other vulnerable members of the society.

“Times like this call for a rethink and change in strategy to protect the rights of the people” Ojukwu said.

He further commended the efforts of federal and state  governments and host of other initiatives aimed at combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nigeria News Agency  (NAN ) reports that World health day is celebrated every April 7 to highlight health awareness. (NAN )

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

 

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Lockdown enforcement: NHRC urges public to report any human rights violations by operatives

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Violation

Abuja, April 1, 2020  The National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) on Wednesday urged members of the public to report all cases of human rights violations during the enforcement of the lockdown order.

The advice was given in a statement by Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of the Commission in Abuja in line with the enforcement of lockdown order in Lagos , Ogun anf FCT.

Ojukwu stated that following reports of alleged human rights violations by security operatives enforcing the lockdown order, the Commission has directed it’s staff to monitor and document all cases of human rights violations across the country for necessary action.

He also directed members of the public to report by telephone calls or text messages or video to relevant staff of the Commission and ensure that such reports include the location of the violation.

“Members of the public should include date, time of such violations including a clear description of alleged violators and their victims, their gender and vulnerability  (if possible, name,  Sex,  rank and security outfit of security personnel or official.

“All complaints of human rights violations should be reported to the commission for documentation and directed for redress to the Commissioners of Police FCT on (Phone/Email) or CP Lagos: (Phone/Email)  and CP Ogun: (Phone/Email)

“Similarly, any complaints of violations involving the Military should be reported to the Commission for documentation and directed for redress to the Director Army,Civil Military Affairs: (Phone/Email) ,” he said.

Ojukwu also called on  the Commissioners of police of the various  states and the offices of the Commission across the country .

The NHRC had on the March 30, called on law enforcement agencies to refrain from all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of Nigerians in the enforcement of the order.

He stated further that  the directives of the Government is in line with the Anti Torture Act of 2017 and Convention Against Torture, to which Nigeria is a party.

Ojukwu lamented that reports coming to the commission indicated that some security operatives were openly torturing and violating the rights of citizens in flagrant disregard to rules of their  engagements, the laws of Nigeria and its international Obligations.

The Numbers designated by the NHRC for reporting and documenting human rights violations during the enforcement of the lockdown order  are:  (Phone/Email) ,  (Phone/Email) ,  (Phone/Email) and   (Phone/Email)

The commission also urged members of the public and bystanders and eyewitnesses  who can get video coverage of any violations to forward same to the said numbers by WhatsApp giving as much detail as possible to help locate and hold accountable violating law enforcement officials.

The Commission therefore enjoined all citizens in the affected states to comply with the Covid-19 directives to protect their rights to health and that of others (NAN )

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

 

 

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Group seeks Buhari’s intervention on invasion of NHRC by Police

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A Civil Society Organisation, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address Monday’s Police invasion of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The Executive Director of CASER, Mr Frank Tietie, made the call in a statement to the Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Abuja,

Tietie, who decried the police action, said that it happened  after members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (Shiites) were seeking the release of their detained leader in detention, Sheikh El-Zazaky.

He, however, said the police action “is condemnable’’, and called on the president to hold the police accountable for its action.

“President Buhari must, therefore, immediately hold the police accountable for this act of indiscretion in responding to protesting members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

“The leadership of the police must ensure that the particular detachment of the policemen that carried out action must of necessity be seriously punished, accordingly,” he said.

Tietie said that NHRC, which Nigerians were seeing as independent and impartial state institution that promotes and defends the constitutionally guaranteed and internationally recognised human rights of all must be respected at all times.

He said that the NHRC had over the years absorbed a lot of tensions from groups and individuals who believed that “it is highly respected and credible’’.

Tietie explained that the work of the commission in attending to complain of human right violations was critical.

“If the NHRC is not safe for protesters, where else in the country can be safe.

“In that case, wherein lies free speech as one of the twin pillars of democracy if law abiding citizens cannot protest.

“It is in this interest, we call on the Federal Government to address the grave desecration and violation of NHRC or be prepared to face judgement of history,” he said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf
(NAN)

 

 

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NHRC urges IGP to fish out personnel who shot at commission’s premises in Maitama

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NHRC urges IGP to fish out personnel who shot at commission’s premises in Maitama: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to fish out those behind the alleged shooting on premises of the commission on Monday.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, made the call while showing newsmen around the premises where the alleged damage caused by bullets during the shooting occurred.

He also urged the Attorney-General, Mr Abubakar Malami to intervene.

“Some shots were fired at the commission around noon.

“As you can see, these are the bullet holes on the building and damaged cars

“The police supposedly tear-gassed members of the banned Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) who were protesting on the Aguiyi Ironsi street where the head office of the NHRC is located.

“Other government agencies along the street may have felt the effect of the tear-gas but none reported live bullet shots into their compounds destroying official and personal property’’, he said.

While expressing displeasure over the attack, Ojukwu urged the IGP to fish out those behind the attack and emphasised the need for the commission to be adequately protected.

“The commission requests that there must be accountability for these attacks.

“It is because the earlier attacks were not punished that this reoccurrence has happened.

“We, therefore, call on the Commissioner of Police FCT, IGP and the Minister of Justice to take immediate action in line with their duties to safeguard the commission in the performance of its duties,’’ Ojukwu said.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Most cases of human right violations in Kwara are against women – NHRC Coordinator

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday said domestic violence against women and issues of inheritance were the two most reported cases of human rights violation in Kwara.

Mrs Jumoke Olaoye, the state Coordinator of the Commission told the Nigeria News Agency in Ilorin that domestic violence constituted the majority of the 200 cases recorded in the last one year.

Olaoye said that many women who came to the commission brought complaints of their husbands beating them with evidences of battery on their bodies.

“The most prevalent area we have been dealing with is the area of domestic violence, and then inheritance.

“Most of the time, we receive complaints about husbands beating their wives and some of them come with evidences.

“Some even land in hospitals in this Ilorin metropolis because we have not been able to go round the state due to poor finances and logistic problem.

‘’Within this Ilorin where the commission has its office, we receive so many complaints about domestic violence and inheritance.

“Most of these widows come around that their husbands’ families have taken over the property of their late husbands and we do ensure that whatever that is on ground that belongs to them, we retrieve it back from the husband families,” she said.

Olaoye said that in most instances, the commission adopted mediation and reconciliation to settle disputes amicably rather than taking people to court for such violations.

“When issues need to be taken to court, we write the national headquarters. We have pro bono lawyers and the Director of Legal Service will assign cases to pro bono lawyers in Kwara that will take up the matter.

“But since February 2019 that I assumed duty here in Kwara, we have not taken any case to court because we have been successful in mediating between husbands and wives.

“Most of the husbands’ families or alleged violators are always ready to comply with our terms of settlement,” she said.

The NHRC coordinator advised women to speak out against violations of their rights, noting that the fear of stigmatisation would not address the societal ills.

“If you know your rights, people will not be able to trample on it, but ignorance is what is worrying us.

“If they even know these rights, do they know where to access it? That is why there is so many agencies that government has provided for women.

“It is for them to take this opportunity and access justice,” said the coordinator.

Olaoye said that the commission was carrying on a lot of sensitisation, which according to her, is yielding the desired result.

“We are doing a lot of sensitisation on that and I believe women are getting there gradually.

“We may not be where we are supposed to be, but we are getting their gradually because we are not where we were in the past,” Olaoye said.

Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Grace Yussuf
(NAN)

 

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NHRC urges NASS to put bills to “human rights impact assessment test”

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday urged the National Assembly to put bills to what he called “human rights impact test” before they are passed.

The Executive secretary, NHRC, Mr Tony Okechukwu, who made the call when a coalition of Civil Society Organisations visited him in Abuja, said this is with a view to enhance the rights of Nigerian citizens.

He said that one way to ensure that the rights of Nigerians are protected was to ensure that laws, policies and guidelines had the qualities to enhance human rights.

According to him, there is what we call assessment of human rights impact of any legislation and this means that any legislation in the parliament that is worth being passed into law should improve the human rights of people.

“We stand on the path that for any law to be passed into law in Nigeria, it must pass through human rights compatibility test which will show that the law when passed will scale up the enjoyment of human rights,’’ Ojukwu said.

He said that NHRC would intensify its participation in public hearings conducted by the National Assembly with a view to providing advice on why any law that does not meet the standard on human right impact assessment should not be passed.

Earlier, the Leader of the group, Mr Samson Itodo, requested the commission to review and advise the national assembly against passing the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill (Social Media Bill).

Others are the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill (Hate Speech Bill) and the Civil Society Regulatory Commission Bill (NGO Bill).

Itodo said that the Social Media Bill was not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society as it would prevent person from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

According to him, even though the government’s purpose may be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties.

“We strongly believe that the Bill contravenes extant constitutional provisions that guarantee right to freedom of expression.

“Restrictions that undermine the ability to receive and exchange information undermine the fundamental human rights provided in the constitution,’’ he added.

Itodo further said that the NGO Bill was inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.

He said “the Bill falls significantly short of international human rights norms governing the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution

“Section four of the Hate Speech Bill also prohibits abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour, which is open to very wide interpretation.

“The nebulous and vague nature of its provisions and unfettered discretion afforded government agencies pose significant danger to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and the rule of law in general.

‘`These provisions would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue, and political commentary,’’ Itodo said.

Similarly, Bukky Shonibare, Founder Girl Child Africa, a CSO, said that the purpose of the meeting was to express their fears that the bills would scale down human rights if allowed to pass.

She, however, urged the commission to issue an advisory to the executive and legislature (National Assembly) on the inconsistencies of the legislations with constitutionally guaranteed human rights and international human rights norms to which Nigeria is a state party.

Shonibare also tasked NHRC to publish a report on the state of human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria.

The CSOs that attended the meeting are Amnesty International, Nigeria, Centre Information Technology and Development and Girl Child Africa.

Others are Enough is Enough, Say No Campaign Nigeria, Spaces for Change and Yiaga Africa. 

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

 

 

 

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Judiciary

NHRC condemns attack on judges over political decisions

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has condemned the growing culture of attack on judges and the Judiciary over judgments on political cases.

Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, NHRC, made the call in a statement on Friday in Abuja on the heels of reported attacks on Justice Mary Odili and other Judicial officers.

Ojukwu expressed concern on recent harassment of judicial officers in the legitimate and constitutional exercise of their functions.

“This situation is further accentuated by the increasing lack of safety for Nigerians while pursuing their legitimate duties or businesses due to acts of hoodlums, criminal minded elements, banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and others thereby undermining human security to abysmal levels.”

“Consequently, the National Human Rights Commission wishes to appeal to all political actors and their supporters to respect the human rights of citizens to express fair comments on the judgments of courts without personalising any issues arising therefrom or infringing on the rights of others.

”They should respect the human rights of judicial officers in the exercise of their lawful duties ;this extends to their personal and official properties and privacy.

”They should respect the rights of other Nigerians who hold divergent political or legal opinions as the basis for a free, just and democratic society,” he said.

The commission further called on security agencies to ensure the rights and security of Nigerians and especially judicial officers performing their official duties are protected.

According to him, those responsible for the attack on Justice Mary Odili’s home as well as other judicial officers who have suffered similar attacks must be brought to book in accordance with the law.

Ojukwu added that judicial independence is greatly undermined when judges are no longer able to exercise their functions without fear of reprisals or kidnappings, reprimand or attack on their persons, immediate family and property.

“The recent attacks on the person and private property of Honourable Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, kidnapping of Justice Ijeoma Iheme of the Court of Appeal Benin Division and other judicial officers are but a few cases amongst a host of others.

“It is worse where such attacks on judicial officials result from performance of official duties following the delivery of judgments in election related cases.

“Such are highly condemnable and portend great danger for Nigeria’s democracy and the enjoyment of the human rights especially the rights to life, freedom from fear of personal security.” he said.

He added further dignity of human persons, privacy and ownership of property as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

He also stated as contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.

According to him, the rule of law and the realization of human rights can only be attained when judges and our courts are able to dispense justice without any inclination to fear, bias and intimidation.

He stated further that It might seem fashionable today to criticize judgements and judges when cases go for or against us but such exercise of rights must be within the law by respecting the rights of the judicial officers and the judiciary.

He said judiciary as a key institution of government, the destruction of which will uproot the very foundations of our democracy and do no one any good.

Ojukwu stated that the commission acknowledged the right of every Nigerian to fair comment on judgments of courts, freedom of expression and to hold and impart opinions as guaranteed by the Constitution.

However, he said , the enjoyment of these rights does not extend to, or encourage violent acts, invasion of privacy and destruction of private properties.

According to him, these also violate the human rights of others and are crimes against the state.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

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General news

Kano human rights-friendly state – NHRC

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Mr Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has described Kano as a human rights-friendly state worthy of emulation by other states in the country.

Ojukwu made the remarks when he led members of the NHRC Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-based Violence on a courtesy visit to Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje at the Government House, Kano on Monday.

The executive secretary, who noted that human rights protection and promotion were vital ingredients for sustainable democracy and development, said he was convinced by the records of human rights protection by the state government.

“While we appreciate what the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission is doing, we commend Gov. Ganduje for doing very well in human rights protection,” Ojukwu said.

“The choice of Kano for the siting of the special investigation panel of the commission was not by accident.

“While we were discussing which of the seven states in the North-West geopolitical zone should host the panel, we unanimously agreed to come to Kano.

“The choice of Kano is appreciatively deliberate,” he said.

Responding, Ganduje attributed the successes which the state had recorded in the area of human rights protection to the contributions of the state anti-corruption commission.

He specifically commended the efforts and leadership of the commission under Mr Muhuyi Rimin-Gado.

“While we appreciate his good work and those of his members of staff, we also give the commission free hand to operate.

“It is as a result of this approach that a serving commissioner lost his job after the commission had concluded its investigations.

“Also, some permanent secretaries and directors, among others, have lost their jobs due to the commission’s investigations.

“Out of the over 7,000 cases that were treated by the state Anti-Corruption Commission, more than 30 percent of them were human rights-related cases,” Ganduje said.

According to him, his administration’s efforts in strengthening human rights-related agencies have boosted the state’s image in the face of human rights protection and promotion.

He said that the state government had established offices of the anti-corruption body in all the 44 local government areas of the state.

“All the offices were built; none of them was rented, because we want to run away from any form of intimidation from landlords.

“We have also equipped the state office with modern communication gadgets for smooth operations.

“Educating our children is another right that must be protected. That is why we have made primary and secondary education free and compulsory, because we believe that denying children from going to school is another form of rights deprivation.

“I am, therefore, calling on NHRC to delve into this and see that the rights of our children are not tampered with,” he said.

According to him, the state was taking stock of all the out-of-school children, adding “once we have all the statistics, we will swing into action.

Ganduje said his administration had already notified parents and guardians that whoever hid his or her ward from going to school would be committing an offence.

“So, we want NHRC to, in the spirit of human rights protection of our children, come and join hands with us. The rights of our children must be protected,” he added.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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NHRC to tackle Sexual Gender based violence in Nigeria

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The National Human Rights commission has reiterated its commitment to address the challenges of sexual and Gender violence in the country.

The executive secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu stated this on Monday during the inauguration of special investigation panel (SIP) on sexual and Gender based violence held in Kano.

According to him, the panel is to promote, protect and enforce the human rights of Nigerians and all living within the country.

“The essence of this public sitting is to check the scourge of sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria and increase access of Nigerians to the services of the commission.

“The inquiry will furthermore provide stakeholders the opportunity to contribute ideas on how best to develop guidelines and policy on sexual and gender based violence for institutions, MDAs, private organisations and homes that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of drug abuse.

“The panel has received 113 complaints across the six geo-political zones with South East accounting for the highest number of 35 representing 30 per cent of the total complaints received,” he said.

Ojukwu added that North central accounts for 19; North West has 12; South South has 26; South West 15 and North East four.

The Executive Secretary further explained that the commission has completed its sitting in Abuja, Lagos and Owerri and has recorded successes already where victims of SGBV and other members of the public who submitted memoranda and complaints were heard in closed chambers.

” The commission after its sittings in Kano will replicate the sitting in South South and North East.

“It will enable all victims of SGBV all over the federation to be heard.

“We urge other victims of sexual and gender based violence to forward their complaints to the panel and assure of adequate protection of identity of victims.

In his Goodwill message, the Chief Judge, of the Kano State, Justice Nura Sagir, who was represented at the occasion by Chief Magistrate, Mariam Ahmed said that the judiciary would continue to expedite action on cases of gender based violence.

“Kano and Lagos have more cases of gender based violence and the way to address this is to sensitive and advocate on prevention.

Ahmed said that special medical facility has been established at Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital in the state to cater for medicals for such victims and we would continue to counsel them.

She added that there was the need to sensitise the community to raise more awareness on the issues of sexual and gender based violence.

On his part, Mr Muyhi Magaji the Executive chairman of the State public complaints and Anti- Corruption Commission said that gender based violence should not be limited to husband killing wife or vice versa.

Magaji said that the panel should also include emotional and violence stress as part of the gender based violence which according to him needed urgent attention.

Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Ekemini Ladejobi

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Judiciary

NHRC receives 449 complaints of Plateau rights violations in 2019

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has said it received 449 complaints from residents of Plateau on cases of human rights violations in the state between January and December 2019.

The North Central Coordinator of NHRC, Mrs. Grace Pam, disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Monday in Jos.

Pam said the commission had recorded a tremendous decrease in violations of human rights in 2019 when compared to the 1,106 complaints received in 2018.

The coordinator said that the spate of violations of rights of children was particularly giving the commission serious concerns.

According to her, most of the petitions are of child abandonment, unlawful detention and domestic violence.

Pam explained that of the 449 cases reported in the period under review, 256 were treated and concluded, with 193 still unresolved.

“From January to December 2019, we received 449 complaints across Plateau, and we successfully treated and concluded 256 of the cases while 193 are still being looked into.

“Child abandonment, domestic violence, unlawful arrest and detention, child abuse, rape, threat to life and inhuman treatment are among the most prevalent cases we received in the period under review,” she said.

The coordinator also said that the commission received cases of right to inheritance, denial of access to children, dismissal from service and denial of entitlements.

She further listed other cases as defamation of character, denial of right to education, abduction and extrajudicial killings.

Pam said cases such as forced marriage, domestic abuse, harassment, intimidation, non-payment of wages, and violation of rights to personal liberty, among others, were also among cases recorded by the commission in 2019.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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Judiciary

Human Rights Day: NHRC, others call for youth involvement in decision making

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(NAN ) The Executive Secretary, Human Rights Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, and other stakeholders on human rights on Tuesday called for active participation of the youth in decision making .

They spoke at an event to commemorate the 2019 International human Rights Day in Abuja.

In an address of welcome, Ojukwu said the day was one that humanity would always remember with nostalgia and utmost gratitude to the UN.

He  said Dec. 10 “provides us the opportunity as individuals, institutions,  as well as a people to renew and reaffirm our commitment to upholding the basic tenets and fundamentals of human rights as enshrined in the UDHR’’.

According to Ojukwu, the theme of the celebration, ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights“, is imperative given the increasing population of young persons.

” In the country, there is the need to collectively ensure that youths participate actively in decision making to enable them contribute meaningfully to nation building.

The energy of the young people should be positively utilised and channelled into national development and that can only happen when they are assisted to live their rights and realise their potential in life.

In our efforts to comprehensively tackle the emerging human rights concerns, we thought it expedient to maximise our human rights education and promotion,’’ Ojukwu said.

He said the aim was  to ensure Nigerians  knew their rights and appreciated the need to seek redress from appropriate institution such as the Human Rights Commission.

He added that the Public Complaints Commission. the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons can also be reached.

He said that one of the trending human rights concerns of the nation was the issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

According to him, the commission has set up a high powered investigation panel which is  expected to provide a sustainable solution to the prevalence of SGBV, especially among the vulnerable.

He said the panel had so far covered two geopolitical zones in the country where it conducted public hearing and participants made shocking revelations.

As we also mark the end today of the 16 days of activism against SGBV. we are optimistic that the message has been sent loud and clear that gender -based Violence is grave human rights violation that cannot be tolerated.

In the bid to take the gospel of human rights to the nooks and crannies of the society and mitigate violations, we have stepped up our advocacy visits to public places like schools,  markets and hospitals.

Following our series of engagements with institutions various schools have established Human Rights Clubs in line with our Education and Promotion programmes,” he said.

Ojukwu said the lack of awareness of human rights principles and norms contributed immensely in fuelling cases of human rights violations at different levels of the society .

In a goodwill message, Mr Buhari Bello, Chairman, Federal Road Safety Commission, called on the relevant authorities to empower the youth to enable them to play their roles.

He called on the states yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act of 2003 to do so.

Dr Martin Ejidike, Senior Human Rights Advisor to UN Country Team to Nigeria, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 49.6 per cent of the population were youths.

He said that the youth should be viewed as part of the solution not as part of the problem.

He added that the youths should be integrated into the programmes for national development as they were the future and the present.

Mr  Simon Karu, member, Committee on Human Rights, who represented the Speaker, House of Representatives, called on all to remember the golden rule and treat others right.

He said everyone should cultivate the culture of human rights value and respect it.

Karu added that by so doing human rights would be respected. (NAN )

Edited /Chukwudi Ekezie

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Defence/Security

Human rights day: NHRC urges youths to shun crimes, defend rights

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Youth

 

 

Lagos, Dec. 10, 2019 The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has appealed to youths to stay off crimes, but defend their rights for the development of the nation.

 

The commission made the appeal  on Tuesday in Lagos as  Nigeria joins the rest of the  world to mark the  2019  International Day for  Human Rights.

 

The South-West Commander, NHRC, Mr Lucas Koyejo,  speaking with  the Nigeria News Agency o said that many youths were into various crimes.

 

He urged them to be more active and vocal in promoting whatever concerns the nation saying that no one would step down for them to occupy leadership.

 

The commander speaking on the theme of this year said that the UN picked it to draw the attention of the youth to their responsibilities and the need for others to support them.

 

NAN reports that the UN had set aside Dec.10 of every year as the International Day for Human Rights.

 

This  year’s theme is: “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.’’

 

Koyejo said, “The UN knows that the youth are the future leaders of the world.

 

“Unfortunately, some youths in present day Nigeria are not as proactive as youths of old.

 

“A lot of our youths are not interested in their rights or government policies that will affect their future.

 

“The youth need to be interested in governance. That is the difference. Nobody will be discriminated against, because the future belongs to them.

 

“They must stand up for their rights,” he said.

 

Also, a human rights lawyer and a Civil Society leader, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, spoke on the role of the youth in promoting human rights and peace.

 

He said that Nigerian youths have the population to make the needed positive changes.

 

Ugwummadu, who described the youth population in Nigeria as a “critical mass” for a change, called on them to be knowledgeable about their rights and the laws of the country.

 

“We have a law: `Not too young to run’. They must know about it and other laws concerning them.

 

“One major challenge is the division among the youth. They must be united if they want to bring about any positive change.

 

“They must network across all ages and genders. They should improve on themselves, and collectively take up national issues,’’ he said.

 

Similarly, Mr Duke Amaliechi, the National Coordinator of Youth for Human Rights International, said that youths had a  great responsibility before them.

 

He said that was why the UN was advising them to stand up for their fundamental human rights.

 

Amaliechi said that there were lots of injustices going on in the society.

 

He  said that the youth should speak out against perceived injustices in the society  and  participate in governance.

 

He advised them not to become tools of crisis or destabilisation in the hands of politicians.

 

He said that only those with poor mindsets would collect money from people to kill fellow human beings or cause crises.

 

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Peter Dada

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Judiciary

Karu JSS wins NHRC 2019 secondary schools quiz competition

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Junior Secondary School (JSS), Karu, Abuja, on Thursday emerged the winner of the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) 2019 secondary schools quiz competition in FCT.

JSS Karu came first among four other schools, including JSS Kubwa, which came second, Fariah Academy, which placed third, as well as JSS, Jabi and JSS Mpape.

The first three schools received trophies for their efforts.

Questions asked bordered on issues relating to human rights and answers were within a time frame.

Expressing her joy on their victory, Miss Favour Uzoma, 14, who led JSS Karu, thanked the Commission for organising the competition.

According to her, the competition exposes children to knowledge of what human rights are and what to do when ones rights are violated.

Miss Goodness Ifeanyi, 12, of JSS Kubwa said the competition helped the children to develop confidence.

She added that other organisations should also follow what NHRC did in order to help develop the educational needs of the children.

Ifeanyi further encouraged other children to have confidence in themselves and come out for such competitions adding that parents should also encourage their children to come out.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary, NHRC, stated that the competition was to inculcate human rights norms and values in children from their early stages of development.

According to him, the 2019 edition of the Human Rights Quiz competition for secondary schools in the FCT was with the theme ‘Youths Stand Up for Human Rights’.

Ojukwu added that the theme was apt considering the pivotal role the youth played in nation building.

“We, therefore, urge all stakeholders to support the cause of children and the youth to enable them to realise their potential in life.

“Considering the achievements recorded from previous competitions in the FCT, we are planning to reach out to more schools outside Abuja to encourage more schools to participate.

“We believe the idea of organising this quiz competition each year will improve the knowledge and understanding of human rights principles among the young population,” he said.

Ojukwu stated that the reason the event was important was that human rights education was crucial to the work of the commission.

He added that apart from quiz competitions the commission had established human rights clubs in schools across the country.

“Apart from encouraging the establishment of Human Rights Club in secondary and primary schools, the commission will establish same in tertiary institutions,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Annual human rights summit: appraisal of human rights situation in Nigeria — NHRC

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(NAN ) The Executive Secretary (ES) , National Human Rights Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, said on Friday that annual human rights summit coming up soon would be for the appraisal of the human rights situations in the country.

Ojukwu said this in Abuja at a news briefing on the summit coming up on Dec. 8, to Dec. 10, in Abuja.

He said that it was necessary to ensure that the country continued to improve on its human rights reporting obligations and to enhance public enlightenment on the regional and international review process of the human rights situation.

Ojukwu said that there was need to institutionalise a broad national consultative process to assess the human rights situation in the country periodically and ensure steady progress in the realisation of rights.

He added that it was against the back drop that the National Human Rights commission (NHRC), deemed it necessary to facilitate an annual national stakeholders summit on human rights in Nigeria.

Furthermore, he said the federal government supported among other several recommendations “to institutionalise a national consultative forum to promote dialogue in the field of human rights.

According to him, the government gave the support at the 2009 United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of Nigeria.

“The key objectives are to provide a platform for an annual appraisal of human rights situation in Nigeria by relevant stakeholders,” he said.

He added that the Annual Human Rights Summit would provide the platform for human rights stakeholders to meet annually to put into proper perspective various issues concerning the promotion, protection, and enforcement of human rights in Nigeria.

Ojukwu further said that the increasing need to engage all MDAs and civil society groups on human rights violation in Nigeria made the Annual Human Rights Summit an imperative strategy for policy appraisal.

He added also dialogue and agenda setting in the area of human rights.

According to him, the Summit is expected to provide an excellent opportunity for the review of Nigeria’s performance with reference to the protection and promotion of human rights by relevant stakeholders.

He said it would provide a platform for relevant Federal and State ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to present their score cards on protection of human rights.

He added that it would help to identify positive human rights developments, the gaps and the challenges, emerging issues and priorities for the summit year.

Ojukwu further said that it would help to assess national development agenda policies and programmes of governments at all levels, vis-a-vis their role in the enjoyment and realisation of human rights.

According to him, the summit will also identify appropriate actions for the following year and concrete follow-up strategies.

He stated that the measure was in order to ensure the integration of rights-based approach into Nigeria’s development agenda as well as the post-2019 development framework.

Ojukwu said that the three-day summit would have its theme as “Adopting Rights-based Approach in the Public Sector Sustainable Development Agenda.”

He added that it would focus on thematic areas crucial to the realisation and enjoyment of human rights in Nigeria such as civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights among others.

According to Ojukwu, there would be human rights awards to individuals, federal/state agencies and corporate institutions in recognition of their contributions to human rights protection in Nigeria.

He mentioned that nomination could be done through the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, or through www.humanrightsummit.ng or NHRC Nigeria Online, @NHRC tweets.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Presidential panel on sexual, gender-based violence receives 96 complaints- NHRC

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The presidential Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria has so far received 96 complaints and memoranda across the six geo-political zones on cases of sexual gender-based violence.

Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), made this known at the South-West public sitting of the panel on Wednesday in Lagos.

Ojukwu said that so far, the panel had received 96 complaints/memoranda across the six geo-political zones with South-East accounting for the highest number of 35, representing 37 per cent of the total complaints received.

He said that the North-Central accounts for 19; South-West has 15; North-West 12; South-South 11, while North-East has four.

Ojukwu said that the panel, which had conducted sitting in Abuja, was constituted following the complaint received on April 26, 2019 in respect of raids of night clubs and streets of Abuja by armed security personnel.

According to him, it was led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) under the auspices of the FCT Joint Task Force, claiming that the raids were intended to arrest prostitutes.

He said that victims of the raids, mostly women had made serious allegations of rape, sexual harassment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Pursuant to the above, the office of the Vice President requested the commission to take immediate steps to arrest this scourge in the society and make appropriate recommendations to the government,’’ Ojukwu said.

The commission executive secretary called on the victims of sexual and gender-based violence to forward their complaints to the panel.

He explained that the essence of the public sitting was to check the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and increase access of Nigerians to the services of the commission.

Ojukwu said that this was to enable them to seek for accountability “where there is evidence to indicate that any officer or official or any individual is involved in acts of sexual and gender-based violence’’.

He said that the public sitting was also to provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complaints and alleged violators and to mainstream human rights norms and tenets into the operations of AEPB.

Ojukwu said that the panel would still hold public sittings in the South-South; South-East; North-West and North-East toward addressing the scourge of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.

He said that members of the panel were carefully selected to represent diverse interests of the society.

Ojukwu said that the panel would work closely with consultants who would bring expertise in the field of SGBV to bear on the proceedings and reports of the panel.

He said that the commission would hear complainants and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“Investigate matters of conduct and discipline of the joint task forces including AEPB, the police and other law enforcement agents during raids, especially as it affects women and girls within the past 10 years.

“Identify individuals directly responsible for any violation and abuses and make recommendations for further actions including, but not limited to prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and damages.

“Develop clear guidelines and policy on SGBV for institutions, MDAs, public and private organisation and homes that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of abuse,” he said.

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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