A prominent civil Rights Advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of grossly undermining the extant national human rights (amendment Act) of 2010 by failing and refusing to reconstitute a governing council for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Rights group said the deliberate refusal of the president to abide by the extant law and reconstitute the board of the apex human rights promotional agency shows his government’s disdain for human rights, respect to the principle of rule of law and his unambiguous hatred for constitutional democracy which he just recently restated whilst marking his 77th birthday.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) condemns the running of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as an appendage of the political administration of the day and lamented that whilst human rights breaches have escalated, the agency that ought to independently probe and prosecute rights violators is administered as a stooge of politicians.
“The president is doing great disservice to the constitutional oath of office he took by repeatedly violating the National Human Rights Commission amendment Act by preferring that human rights of Nigerians are gravely endangered whilst the Right commission go on partying and giving awards to government and private corporate bodies who themselves are guilty of human rights violations. We may have no choice but to write the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask that Nigeria be downgraded and seen as a nation whose political authority care less about promotion and protection of human rights of Nigerians.”
“It is a fact that several security forces keep detainees extra judicially for years but the National Human Rights Commission is asleep. The last governing board was dissolved over three years ago and the government has refused to reconstitute the panel.”
Citing section 1. (1) of the enabling Act, the Rights group observed tgat the law states as follows: “There is hereby established a body to be known as the National Human Rights Commission (in this Act referred to as the “Commission”). (2) The Commission shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name. 2. (1) 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. (2) The Council shall consist of – (a) a Chairperson who shall be a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, or Court of Appeal, or a retired Judge of the Federal High Court or High Court of a State or a legal practitioner with 20 years post qualification experience and requisite experience in human rights.
HURIWA reminded the President that by law the Commission shall –
(a) deal with all matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international and regional instruments on human rights to which Nigeria is a party;
(b) monitor and investigate all alleged cases of human rights violation in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendations to the Federal Government for the prosecution and such other actions as it may deem expedient in each circumstance;
(c) assist victims of human rights violations and seek appropriate redress and remedies on their behalf;
(d) undertake studies on all matters pertaining to human rights and assist the Federal, State and Local Governments where it considers it appropriate to do so in the formulation of appropriate policies on the guarantee of human rights;
(e) publish and submit, from time to time, to the President, National Assembly, Judiciary, State and Local Governments, reports on the state of human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria;
(f) organise local and international seminars, workshops and conferences on human rights issues for public enlightenment;
(g) liase and cooperate, in such manner as it considers appropriate, with local and international organizations on human rights with the purpose of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights;
(h) participate in such manner as it considers appropriate in all international activities relating to the promotion and protection of human rights;
(i) maintain a library, collect data and disseminate information and materials on human rights generally;
(j) receive and investigate complaints concerning violations of human rights and make appropriate determination as may be deemed necessary in each circumstance; amongst others.