A former Director-General of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, on Monday expressed worry over what he said was the federal government’s silence on killing of Nigerians abroad.
Mr. Odinkalu, Senior Team Manager for Africa Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative, told the News Agency of Nigeria on the side-line of Human Rights Fiesta in Abuja, that the government was not caring for citizens.
He said that six Nigerian females were killed abroad recently, but that there was no serious action was taken by the government.
He said the federal government needed to do more to ensure that every Nigerian life mattered.
If one white person gets killed in France, our president sends a condolence message.
“It is disappointing that our president does not take it seriously when Nigerians are killed. Rather, we get condolence messages being sent out to the rest of the world when their own people are killed.
“If all the Nigerians being killed don’t matter, and one white person killed matters to our president, that tells that you we have a lot of work to do.
“I know that there is no perfect human rights situation anywhere because everywhere it is work-in-progress and Nigeria is the same but we don’t have a choice; we have to make progress. Nigerian lives must matter.’’
Mr. Odinkalu said though he was not against condoling with the rest of the world, he insisted that Nigerians also deserved condolence and protection.
He said that this was because Nigerian lives were just as important as European and American lives, adding that that was the point that everyone needed to understand on human rights day.
The former director-general said that there were many things Nigeria needed to get right, especially the rule of law.
He noted that the government was still having problems obeying the court orders on Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and Sambo Dasuki.
He said that there were also issues with law enforcement abuses by police and other security agents, like the young women who escaped from Boko Haram and got raped by security personnel.
Mr. Odinkalu said that part of the reasons for failure to achieve human rights was the impunities of corruption and the absence of effective remedy to bring to book people who stole or plundered the country’s money.
According to him, there are people who have pocketed the budgetary appropriations for hospitals, schools, roads and we have not been able to find those people and bring them to book.
“As a result of that, we cannot provide adequately for our people. So essentially, my first advice is, let us get the rule of law right because if we get it right, everything will work,’’ he said.
He urged Nigerians to stand for each other and that the government should back the people to ensure human rights for all.
“My prayer for Nigerians is “may somebody be there for them at the point of their needs, that point of need is the point at which a human rights need is addressed.’’
Similarly, popular Reggae artiste, Ras Kimono, told NAN that Nigerians were being killed across the globe but the government was not addressing the killings.
Kimono said that there was need to put in place mechanisms that would address such situations and call for sanctions where necessary.
He said that he had been singing about human rights for over 20 years in Nigeria, yet little had been done by the government in that aspect.
He urged Nigerians to support themselves and work out plans to assist each other in cases of dehumanisation.
Frank Tietie, Executive Director, Citizen’s Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, also told NAN that Nigerians needed to wake up and master what their rights were.
Mr. Tietie urged Nigerians to demand such rights from the government and also know the available places to seek redress.
“On the occasion of the human rights day, I thought it wise to organise a fiesta to bring to the knowledge of Nigerians the 30 human rights tenets to enlightenment.
“I made the longest human rights banner with all the 30 universal declaration of human rights.’’
He said that this would help the common man to know the rights he had and how to use them to seek redress.