Nigerian politicians intolerant of human rights – Shehu Sani

Shehu Sani

An average politician in Nigeria is insensitive to the provisions of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians, Shehu Sani, senator representing Kaduna Central has said.

Asides the politicians, security agencies have also flouted the fundamental rights of citizens, he added.

Mr. Sani said these while receiving a delegation of the European Union parliament at his office on Tuesday.

Addressing the parliamentarians who are members of the EU sub-committee on human rights, Mr. Sani said Nigerian democracy has not performed to expectation in terms of human rights.

“In the last 18 to 19 years, our democratic experience and experiment has not been very smooth on the human rights perspective. In the sense that those fundamental principles for which a state would be gauged in terms of its conformity to fundamental human rights, we found out that there are areas where we falter but there are also areas where we have recorded successes.

“When we talk of human rights in Nigeria, there are many areas of concern but immediate concern is the lack of political tolerance among many of pour political role players. We still have cases of people arrested for their views, we still have people detained for their own perspective, and we also have security agencies still unable to adapt themselves to reality of what a democratic society should symbolise.

“We have seen the temptation from democratic governments to sideline human right issue in the pursuit of the prosecution of war against terrorism. It is our concern that democratic states within the continent should be able to balance their security exigencies with their obligation to respect the fundamental rights of citizens.”

He sought the EU’s assistance in reinforcing respect for human rights by democracies in Africa.

In rendering the assistance and others, he proposed a system where countries will be measured and interacted with according to their respect for fundamental human rights.

Mr Sani called for a synergy between Africa and Europe to curb recent cases of human trafficking in the continent.

He also called for more activeness of Europe in the activities of the International Criminal Court.

“We have a dilemma in terms of what our position will be in terms of the International Criminal Court. This is a court which is now headed by an African and we are very proud and grateful for that. But the dubious contradiction is that of how the court will be able to prosecute a case in view of the fact that nations within the continent are moving towards pulling out of that court. There is need also for you to address the concern, as the perception in Africa, that it is a court that simply targets African leaders and African issues and we don’t see it prosecuting cases outside Africa.”

Leader of the delegation, Josef Weidenholzer, said Nigeria must first achieve a level of stability as a prerequisite for human rights protection.

“We have a lot of issues we have to be concerned together. One of the most important part for me is stability. Stability is only possible if there is democracy, rule of law, human rights. You cannot bring about stability when there is violence. We need a situation where there is stability.

“The senator is a very important person because his record of human rights is known everywhere. So, for us to come here, we want to hear his views, his perception and his proposals.

“For us it was shocking to know that there was a kind of slave trade established in Libya. It is also part of our non-capacity to solve the problems.”

He pledged more support from the EU in solving the problems highlighted.

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