A total of 1, 287, 706 petitions on human rights violations were filed by Nigerians at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2020, data obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has shown.
The petitions were filed at the NHRC headquarters in Abuja and its branches in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
They were largely filed against individuals, Nigeria’s judiciary system and law enforcement agencies.
The alleged violations were in 14 broad areas namely sexual and gender based violence; women and gender rights; child rights; freedom/liberty of persons; right to life; freedom of religion; and law enforcement and human dignity.
Others are labour rights; freedom from discrimination; judiciary, rule of law and access to justice; right of the aged; Niger Delta and environment; and others.
Unusual year, events
Arguably one of the most turbulent years in the history of the world, 2020 will continue to reverberate in the minds of many Nigerians for unusual events.
Aside its link with the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, an event Nigeria and the rest of the world are yet to recover from, 2020 has singled itself out because of the social cum political campaign tagged #EndSARS.
The campaign which strictly started as a massive resistance against police brutality later metamorphosed into a call to end bad governance amidst the biting impact of COVID-19.
While COVID-19 halted the social and economic lifestyle of Nigerians and sent many back home, #ENDSARS took others, majorly youth to the streets to protest.
It was in the midst of these historical events that Nigeria recorded yet a staggering record of human rights violations filed at the human rights commission.
With figures to match, Nigeria is arguably one of the countries in the world where human rights are routinely violated, usually without commensurate punishments.
In the context of COVID-19, #EndSARS protests, among other events, the raw data PREMIUM TIMES obtained from NHRC showed a noticeable increase in violations against the rights of Nigerian in 2020.
After weeks of careful data collation across the country, NHRC streamlined the total complaints filed by individuals, groups or organisations into 14 broad categories of human rights violations in the year under review.
The commission further categorised the complaints into 58 thematic focal points.
With 212,480 petitions confirmed to have been filed, violations of the rightd of children topped the chart.
From child labour, child trafficking and abuse to denial of the right to education, the data clearly suggested that children were highly affected by the developments peculiar to 2020.
The reason for this may not be divorced from the fact that academic sessions from primary to higher institutions were placed on hold, exposing children to adverse treatment from parents, siblings, family, friends and neighbours.
Violation of different labour rights is second on the chart with 193,960 complaints filed against individuals, companies and organisations across the country.
Though Nigeria was not listed among the top ten worst countries for workers’ rights in the June 2020 Global Rights Index of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the data shows that many workers’ rights in the country were not highly upheld not only by the concerned persons and organisations but also by the law.
Petitions on sexual and gender-based violence, women rights violation, law enforcement and human dignity also formed a large percentage of the total complaints received by the NHRC between January and December 2020.
While sexual and gender-based violence and women rights violation account for 128,320 and 104,000 of the total number of complaints respectively, petitions against law enforcement agents and agencies totalled 111,880.
The reason for this may not be unconnected to COVID-19 and protests against the age long police brutality.
Interestingly, despite the harassment of some journalists and other media personalities by security operatives in 2020, not a single petition on obstruction to press freedom was filed or published.
Meanwhile, speaking on the petitions, NHRC Director, Women and Children Department, Harry Obe, said the largest number of complaints came from the North-east region of the country.
“I can’t speak to specific figures with you but I know as of fact that the highest number of cases came from the North-east, where we have the conflict and the reason is not far-fetched,” Mr Obe told PREMIUM TIMES.
“As of September 2020, Borno State was the highest. That was the report I received from the state.”
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