The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has denounced the attack on a judge and other judicial officials in Ekiti by alleged supporters of the state’s governor-elect Ayo Fayose. The commission described the attack as “reprehensible and deserving of the most serious sanction possible under law.”
According to the communiqué issued by the governing council of the NHRC at the end of its statutory meeting in Owerri, the commission said it has referred the issue to the police for further investigation and appropriate action.
“Council calls on all relevant State institutions to deny impunity to such egregiousness by taking appropriate steps to defend, protect and preserve the integrity of the judiciary and of the officers who preside in the courts,” the communiqué reads.
The commission also called on the government to live up to its obligation as a party to the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) and do more to protect “the human rights, dignity and well-being” of all those displaced by insurgency in the North-East.
It observed that over a million Nigerians have been displaced by the conflict making Nigeria one of the world’s leading producers of internally displaced people and refugees.
The NHRC said that the displacement has had particular adverse consequences on vulnerable groups such as women, children and the aged as well as the means of livelihood of the people in the region.
“The security situation in the North-East has forcibly displaced farming and fishing communities out of their livelihoods, destroyed successive farming seasons and created an alarming food security crisis in the region,” it stated/
In July, the federal government established a committee on the N50 billion Victims Support Fund headed by multi-billionaire, Theophilus Danjuma, to support victims of insurgency and terror attacks across the country.
Despite raising over N58 billion during its inaugural fund raising dinner, some displaced people have complained of inadequate provision and in some cases being neglected by the government.
While praising the men and women of the armed forces for their sacrifice and bravery in the defence of the country against the insurgents, the commission decried the “serious and massive violations of human rights, mass atrocities and international crimes committed mostly by the insurgents.”
The NHRC also said it considered and approved the payment of N5 million each to the families of the seven youth killed by soldiers at the Dangote Cement factory in Tse-Kucha in Gboko Local Government area of Benue State as well as N2 million to those injured in the shooting.
On March 18, soldiers attached to the cement plant opened fire on a group of peaceful protesters who had gathered to protest the shooting of a youth who was relieving himself by a soldier, killing seven people and injuring several others.
The youth whose shooting led to the protest wasn’t killed but was left scarred after the bullets shattered his mouth.
It said it was committed to the eradication of the culture of impunity in the country.
Other complaints deliberated by the commission are: the alleged non-payment of entitlements to beneficiaries of deceased military officers affected by the c-130 Air crash as well as the alleged unlawful arrest, detention, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of 486 persons by the 82 Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu.
It said it also considered and issued directives on the alleged extra- judicial killings of some members of the Islamic Shia Group in Zaria; and alleged extra-judicial killings by soldiers in moon district of Kwande LGA of Benue State.
In all, the NHRC said it considered 275 cases and complaints and disposed of 62 cases during the meeting.
Right to political participation
As the preparation for next year’s general election intensifies, the NHRC noted that the participation of all eligible person to vote and be voted for is a human right guaranteed by the constitution.
It therefore called on law enforcement agencies, political parties and civil society organisations to take immediate measure to denounce electoral violence.
“Council considered a report on the framework for the guarantee of the right to political participation and other associated rights in Nigeria including the right to vote and be voted for in a safe and secured environment.
“Council notes that effective participation by every willing, eligible voter and candidate in electoral contests is a human right guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a party and that free exercise of this right enhances the sense of citizenship and social inclusion and confers credibility and legitimacy on the electoral process and on governance.”
The commission said it was committed to monitoring all cases of electoral violence and offers to work with “all persons, institutions and agencies interested in addressing it.”