The refusal for over two years to reconstitute the governing council of the nation’s premier human rights monitoring institution – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by president Muhammadu Buhari clearly signposts an administration that has no regard for the human rights of the citizenry.
HURIWA said that beyond the manifestation of very poor human rights record of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the last three and half years, the rubbishing of the National Human Rights Commission could backfire in such a way that it may be downgraded in status internationally by the United Nations Human rights council because for any national human rights institution to enjoy top global rating it must be independent in terms of management and operations which the lack of a statutory governing board has denied the National Human Rights Commission as it is currently.
Besides, the rights group believes that the lack of a governing board has crippled the institution and has denied it of the global statute as an independent, impartial and courageous ombudsman for the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of all citizens as clearly spelt out in the universal declarations of human rights, African charter on peoples and human rights and the Nigerian constitution.
HURIWA accused president Buhari of undermining the independence of the rights institution by allowing it to operate for over two years without a “Soul” just as the agency has now been reduced in the estimation of government as a mere government agency as against the clear provisions of the statutory Act setting up the institution which grants it operational and funding autonomy.
HURIWA recalled that the Governing Council of the Commission is so important legally to an extent that the enabling Act states that there shall be for the Commission a Governing Council (in this Act referred to as “the Council”) which shall be responsible for the discharge of the functions of the Commission.
HURIWA said the National Human Rights Commission cannot function optimally because the enabling law clearly states that the governing council shall be responsible for the discharge of the functions of the Commission which is legally empowered to Deal with all matters relating to the protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other International Treaties on human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory; monitor and investigate all alleged cases of human rights violation in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendation to the President for the prosecution and such other actions as it may deem expedient in each circumstance; assist victims of human rights violation and seek appropriate redress and remedies on their behalf; undertake studies on all matters pertaining to human rights and assist the Federal Government in the formulation of appropriate policies on the guarantee of human rights; publish, from time to time, reports on the state of human rights protection in Nigeria; organize local and international seminars, workshops and conferences on human rights issues for public enlightenment; liaise and co-operate with local and international organizations on human rights with the purpose of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights; participate in all international activities relating to the promotion and protection of human rights; maintain a library, collect data and disseminate information and materials on human rights generally; and carry out all such other functions as are necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions under this Act.