NHRC Tasks West African Countries On Human Rights Protection

Bem Angwe, NHRC, West Africa, Human Rights, The National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria (NHRC) has blamed the incessant violation of human rights in West Africa on the failure of most member countries to implement the Paris Principle on Human Rights, 23 years after its adoption.

The observation was made in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Monday by the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, who is also the President of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa.

Professor Angwe said that only six out of the 16 countries in the West African region have human rights institutions that have adopted the international status on human rights, with no attempt by the rest to do so.

The Regional Representative of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in West Africa, Mr Andera Ori, stressed the need for a thorough implementation of the Paris Principles through the legislative reforms in member countries.

The ECOWAS Head of Democracy and Good Governance, Eyesan Okorodudu, also said the implementation of the principle in member countries was key.

The Paris Principle was drafted in Paris, France’s capital in 1991 and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.

They are a set of international minimum standards which specify the status and functioning of national human rights institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights.

NHRC Cautions NLC Against Planned Protest In Nasarawa State

NHRC, NLC Protest, NasarawaThe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates to refrain from embarking on its planned protest in Nasarawa State.

Sequel to the death of two workers in the state in north-central Nigeria, the NHRC asked the group to desist from activities that would jeopardise the outcome of its investigation.

In a compliance advisory signed by the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, all parties to the complaint before the NHRC were strongly advised to maintain peace and order, pending the final determination of the investigation of the complaint.

The commission also advised the Nasarawa State government to suspend the implementation of the reduction in the workers’ salaries, pending the completion of the investigation of the complaints.

It further directed law enforcement and security agencies to ensure full adherence to the compliance advisory till the investigation was fully completed and determined.

The NHRC added that the advisory became necessary following the reports it received that the NLC was planning to hold a rally in Lafia, the Nasarawa State’s capital and other places to protest against the state government on August 23.

The compliance advisory reads:

RE: PLANNED MASS PROTEST IN NASARAWA AND IMO STATES ON COMPLAINT OF ALLEGED SHOOTING AND KILLING OF NASARAWA STATE WORKERS AND DEMAND FOR JUSTICE.

INTERIM ORDER TO MAINTAIN STATUS QUO AND PEACE PENDING INVESTIGATION OF THE COMPLAINT.

ABUJA, 16 August 2016: This Advisory is issued in exercise of the responsibilities conferred on the National Human Rights Commission under Section 5(o) of the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995 (as amended), which empowers the Commission to “on its own initiative…. report on actions that should be taken by the Federal, State or Local Government to comply with the provisions of any relevant international human rights instruments.” and

WHEREAS by a letter dated 3rd of August, the National Human Rights Commission received a complaint from the office of the President of Nigerian Labour Congress, alleging shooting and killing of some Nasarawa State workers by police in the course of meeting with the Governor of Nasarawa State.

WHEREAS the Commission has admitted the Complaint and commenced full investigation Pursuant to Section 5 of the National Human Rights Commission Act of 1995 (as amended) and have met with all the parties to the complaint.

WHEREAS it has come to the notice/attention of the National Human Rights Commission that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is planning to hold a rally in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital and other places to protest against the Nasarawa State Government on the 23rd August, 2016.

WHEREAS the National Human Rights Commission affirms that the right to assemble freely and to protest or demonstrate peacefully is a human right guaranteed by Sections 39-40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Articles 9-11 of the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is domestic law in Nigeria.

WHEREAS the National Human Rights Commission also affirms that under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is also party, “no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”

AND WHEREAS there is need to forestall a recurrence of such incident during the planned rally which, though well within the right of the organised labour (and indeed any other citizen at that) to hold or participate in, could still go awry when members of the congress participating in the rally becomes uncontrollable, or are infiltrated by other elements with ulterior motives;

NOW THEREFORE, the National Human Rights Commission in a considered opinion in line with Sections 6 (1)(a) of the NHRC Act (as amended) and rules 67(1)&(2) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure (STORP) of the Commission do hereby, issue the following interim measures as COMPLIANCE ADVISORY:

a) All parties to the complaint before the Commission are hereby STRONGLY ADVISED to maintain peace and order pending the final determination of the investigation of the complaint.

b) NLC and its affiliates are hereby STRONGLY ADVISED to refrain from embarking on the planned or any protest in connection with this complaint either in Nassarawa State or do any such act that will jeopardize, or has the potentials of affecting the protection of parties, victims, evidence, witnesses or any participants in the complaint process or the outcome of the investigation.

c) The Government of Nassarawa State is to suspend forthwith, the implementation of the reduction in the worker’s salary, pending the completion of the investigation of the complaints

d) All parties to this complaint as well as the law enforcement and security agencies are to ensure full compliance of this interim measure, pending the full investigation and determination of this complaint.

PLEASE NOTE: That by Section 6 (4) (d) of the NHRC Act, 1995 (as amended), it is a punishable offence for any person, body or authority to refuse to comply with lawful directives of the Commission.

Issued this 22nd day of August, 2016 at the National Human Rights Commission Headquarters.

Signed:
Prof. Bem Angwe
Executive Secretary/CEO

Military Begins Rehabilitation Of Repentant Insurgents

Military, Insurgents, Boko Haram MilitantsThe Military has begun the process of reintegrating repentant members of the Boko Haram sect into the society.

The rehabilitation is part of the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to rebuild Nigeria’s Northeast region, following terrorists’ attacks that have caused devastating damage in the region.

The National Security Council has mandated the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, to receive the repentant terrorists with a view to rehabilitating them.

The Director of Production, Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Emmanuel Anebi, who represented General Olonisakin, received various items for usage in the camp situated in Gombe, northeast Nigeria.

He said the programme, Operation Safe Corridor, was designed to receive surrendering Boko Haram members and take them through a process that would reintegrate them back to the society.

The Chairman of Operation Safe Corridor, Brigadier General Bamidele Shafa and the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, hinted that series of programmes have been earmarked for the process.

They reeled out different vocations and skill acquisition programmes to be held on camp towards reintegrating the repentant combatants into the society.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that it has contributed its quota to the programme to make the camp conducive for the repentant militants.

Director General of NEMA, Mr Sani Sidi, disclosed that the agency has donated several items ranging from food and edibles to bedding materials as well as resource persons and camp officials required to carter for them.

The repentant terrorists now have a chance to begin normal life again, even as the military is currently conducting mop-up operations to clear the remnants of the terrorists.

NHRC Engages Nigerian Military On Alleged Human Rights Violation

Human RightsThe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on security agencies involved in the fight against insurgents to abide by their rules of engagement by respecting the rights of civilians during operations.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Professor Angwe was delivering a speech at the 3rd National Human Rights Commission /Nigerian Military Dialogue on Human Rights.

He said that there should be a balance between military necessity and human rights protection during conflicts.

The NHRC boss also advised civilians to respect the military authorities who are out to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.

In his remark, the Nigerian Army Chief of Civil-Military Relations, Major General Rogers Nicholas, described the allegations against the military as untrue.

He insisted that the Nigerian Army respects the rules of engagement as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

The Director of Civil-Military Relations of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Afam Chukwu, also reaffirmed the commitment of the Air Force to the protection of peoples’ rights.

Issues of alleged extra-judicial killings were further discussed but this was done behind closed doors.

NHRC Reads Riot Act To Electoral Offenders

NHRCThe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has read the riot act to perpetrators of electoral violence and all persons engaged in the use of hate speeches.

This comes as part of efforts to stem the tide of electoral violence and the promotion of hate speeches in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, gave the warning on Thursday while inaugurating a special investigation panel on hate speeches and electoral violence in Abuja.

Professor Angwe said that the commission was taking steps to bring the full weight of the law on persons who engage in acts capable of breaching the peace of the nation.

He added that the commission was compiling names of ad-hoc and permanent staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who exhibited acts that caused violence in the 2015 general elections.

The Chairperson of the investigation panel, Oti Ovrawah, appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with the panel in ensuring an end to electoral violence in the country.

NHRC Advocates International Cooperation To Tackle Terrorism

NHRCThe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for international cooperation in fighting what it termed ‘economic terrorism’ in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Professor Ben Angwe, made the appeal on Tuesday during a consultative meeting with a 10-man delegation from the United States in Abuja.

Professor Angwe told the White House security delegation that diversion of funds meant for fighting insurgency to other countries, puts the lives of many Nigerians at risk, while stressing that such needed to be tackled and the funds recovered.

He stressed the need for Nigeria to collaborate with the international community to fight the two major forms of terrorism – insurgency and economic terrorism.

Reacting to the human rights violations by the Nigerian military in its war against terror, the NHRC boss said that there has been a clear indication from the military that such violations would no longer occur.

He added that a special investigative panel had been deployed to look into such abuses, specifically the recent clash between the Nigerian Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

In his reaction, the head of the US delegation, Ambassador Stephen Nolan, observed that such incident could only arise out of weakness in governance, saying the consultative meeting was set to tackle such matters.

He added that the meeting would fashion ways to help improve the justice and security sectors of the country for better service delivery.

The delegation had experts from the United States Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, International Development and Governance.