NHRC Boss Decries Failure To Prosecute Those Behind Hate Speech

NHRC, NASSARAWA, STATE WORKERS

The acting Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu has lamented over the non-prosecution of perpetrators of hate speech and election violence in Nigeria.

The NHRC boss said that the non-prosecution of these perpetrators has largely encouraged the use of hate speech in election campaigns and other related social activities.

Ojukwu said this on Monday at the Federal High Court complex in Kaduna State during the Public Hearing by the Commission.

This situation, Ojukwu said further, is detrimental to the country’s socioeconomic development.

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The Commission at the Public Hearing highlighted cases of hate speeches and electoral violence which took place during and after the 2015 general elections in the North West region of the country, with a view to forestalling reoccurrence.

The history of hate speech and incitement to violence in Nigeria is a long, widespread and an unhappy one. Hate speech and the fanning of ethnic discord was linked with violence after the 2011 elections that left hundreds of people dead and thousands displaced.

The same scenario played out again during the 2015 elections where unprecedented cases of tension and violence were recorded in many parts of the country.

According to the National Human Rights Commission boss, the public hearing for stakeholders from the North West zone of the country was necessitated by series of complaints received by the commission against persons or parties alleged to have been involved in promoting hate speech and violence in the 2015 elections.

It will also serve as a proactive measure by the commission to discourage such acts as the nation prepares for another general election in 2019.

“During the 2015 general elections, the commission carried out a similar campaign against hate speech and election violence. You will recall the tension created in the polity due to hate speeches during the 2015 general elections. It took the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure that the whole scenario did not degenerate into massive election violence like in 2011 general elections.

“In the past, violators of hate speech and election-related violence are hardly made accountable. This has encouraged the use of hate speech in campaigns and other election-related activities. The purpose of the present campaign by NHRC is to discourage use of hate speech and election violence during campaigns and other election activities as we approach the 2019 general elections,” he said.

The 2019 elections might be months away from now, but the verbal war and physical altercations in some cases between the gladiators, the political leaders and their followers seemed to be generating tension in the country. It is therefore hoped that such platforms like the public hearing will reduce election-related conflicts in the country.

Lawyers Protest Arrest, Detention Of Members

Lawyers Protest Arrest, Detention Of MembersA group of lawyers under the aegis of Lawyers in Defense Of Democracy are protesting the continued detention of their members by the Department Of State Services (DSS).

They have called for the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Apart from asking for the release of their members, the group also called on the commission to ensure the disbandment of the Police probe panel into the Rivers State re-run elections killings.

According to the coordinator of the group, Agu Okwukwe, the arrests, detention and the probe panel constituted by the Inspector General of Police are targeted at their members for the role they played in ensuring that votes count during the re-run election in Rivers state.

Meanwhile, the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Oti Ovrawah, has promised to investigate the allegations.

Shiites Ask NHRC To Intervene In Zakzaky’s Continued Detention

Shiites, NHRCMembers of the outlawed Islamic Movement in Nigeria have appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to intervene in the continued detention of their leader, Mr Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.

The group, popularly known as Shiites, took to the NHCR headquarters in Abuja to protest what they called “a flaunt on the laws of the land with impunity” by the Federal Government.

The Federal High Court in Abuja had in a ruling on December 2, 2016, ordered the release of the Shiites’ leader and his wife in 45 days, a deadline which had expired.

The Federal Government, however, is yet to obey the order.

The Shiites maintained that the government must obey the court order and release their leader and his wife, Zeenah.

The Secretary to the Academic Forum of the Islamic group, Mr Abdullahi Musa, described the continued detention as “unconstitutional and an infringement on the rights” of their leader and his wife.

Zaria Residents Protest Against El-Zakzaky's Release
Mr Ibraheem El-Zakzaky

“The court has ordered the government to free him (El-Zakzaky) within 45 days and today (Tuesday) is the 47th day (and) the government has not done anything. It has not shown any response to the court of law and law of the land, but at the same time they are calling (on) us to be peaceful.

“We have been peaceful since last three decades; we have been peaceful in this country (but) they have been killing us. The reason why we are here is to let the masses know that this government is not ready to free our leader.

“He is an innocent person who has been in detention since last year. So let the people know that the government is not ready to free him despite the court order and that is why we choose to come to the human rights commission because the right of our leader is being violated,” Musa said.

The acting secretary of NHRC, Mrs Oti Ovrawah, commended the group for the peaceful demonstration.

She assured them that the commission would intervene in the matter as soon as possible.

“We are receiving your complaints now and the work of the commission is to pass your complaints and advise the government accordingly.

“We have heard your complaints here (and) we are going to do the needful. We are going to advise the government accordingly in line with your complaints,” Mrs Ovrawah assured the Shiites.

Disengaged NNPC Workers Protest

Disengaged NNPC Workers ProtestDisengaged casual workers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are protesting what they term summary dismissal by the corporation and failure to pay them outstanding benefits for over two years.

They have now asked for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the matter.

The group, who are asking for four billion naira severance pay, claim that they were issued official letters of engagement with which they served as office assistants and field workers with the NNPC for 15 years, prior to their disengagement.

The spokesperson of the group, Eze Emeh said that they held series of meetings with the management of the NNPC in 2015 which stopped abruptly in what he described as an effort to frustrate them into silence.

The NNPC has declined to comment on camera.

Lawyers Seek Investigation Into Allegations Of Rights Abuse In The Judiciary

Judges, NJC, NBA, investigationA group of lawyers are still kicking against the arrest of judges by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and the continued detention of Nigerians who have been granted bail by various courts.

The lawyers under the auspices of Lawyers in Defence of Democracy staged a protest on Monday in Abuja.

In a protest letter, the lawyers called on the National Judicial Council and the Chief Justice of Nigeria to direct all judges in the country not to hear any applications from the DSS and other agencies, except bail applications until there is obedience to all pending orders against them.

They alleged that there was continuous abuse of Nigeria and disregard for the rule of law and asked the National Human Rights Commission to investigate their claims.

Channels Television’s correspondent, Amaka Okafor, reports that the lawyers carrying placards were joined by musical groups.

The spokesman for the group, Kenga Ugochiyere, decried what he called disrespect for the judiciary by agencies of government, pointing out that it is not good for the country’s democracy.

“To ensure the independence of the judiciary the national judiciary must take a stance,” he stressed.

At the office of the National Human Rights Commission the group raised issues of abuse of court orders, citing persons that have remained in detention in spite of getting bail from the court.

After they tabled the issues, the Executive Secretary National Human Rights Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, assured them that the commission would look at their request and act accordingly.

This protest comes days after another group threw its weight behind the department of state services for the raid of judges‘ homes across the country.

Court Martial Jails Soldier Over Assault On Minor

Court Martial, Soldier, MinorThe court martial trying offending soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole has de-ranked and sentenced an Army personnel to three years in prison over assault on a minor, which led to amputation.

The convict, Umar Sule, a staff sergeant was first arraigned in August 2015 alongside 19 others for various offences.

The two-count charge against him include entertaining an unauthorised person in his guard location as well as unlawful assault causing “grievous bodily harm”.

The 10-year-old boy, simply identified as Mohammed Usman, sat limbless in court on Tuesday as the fate of his assaulter was decided.

Mohammed, as an errand boy to the said soldier, allegedly stole 2,000 Naira from his master’s room.

Giving his ruling, president of the court martial, Brigadier-General Olusegun Adeniyi, said that the court was guided by military laws as enshrined in the Armed Forces Act 2004.

The Defence counsel pleaded for mercy on the grounds that Sergeant Umar was a first offender with clean records.

The victim’s mother, Amina Usman, however, had mixed feelings over the ruling, saying the future of her child hangs in the balance.

On her part, a representative of the National Human Rights Commission, Jummai Mshelia, commended the Nigerian Army and the court martial for the ruling and sought support for the victim.

The judgement is the first since the General Court Martial was inaugurated.

The court has adjourned till October 20 for hearing of the next case.

The 20 soldiers arraigned before the court comprise of four officers and 16 other ranks.

Navy Denies Human Rights Abuse Allegations

Abdul-Adamu-Managing-Director-of-Navy-Building-and-Construction-Company-LimitedThe Nigerian Navy has denied allegations of human rights abuse levelled against it by the proprietor of a Lagos based building construction company.

Briefing the National Human Rights Commission which had summoned the Navy on the issue, the Managing Director of Navy Building and Construction Company Limited, Commodore Abdul Adamu, said the Navy was a disciplined force and do not involve in any form‎ of human rights abuse in any part of Nigeria.

He admitted that the Nigerian Navy had a business relationship with Lexy Nigeria Limited which ‎was now a subject of dispute before an arbitration panel in Lagos.

Commodore Adamu also apologised for the absence of the Chief of Naval Staff due to exigencies of state duties.

Navy-Brief-NHRC-on-human-rights-abuse-allegations
Head of NHRC, Dr. bem Angwe and naval officers at the briefing on human rights abuse allegations

The National Human ‎Rights Commission (NHRC) had on September 21 summoned the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, to appear before it on September 26.

He has been invited to answer to allegations of human rights violation levelled against him and the Managing Director of Naval Building and Construction Company Limited, Commodore Abdul Adamu.

In the summons made available to Channels Television, the Commission said it was in receipt of a complaint by the Managing Director of Lexy Nigeria Limited, Prince Leye Adetipe, against Vice Admiral Ibas and some staff of the Navy whom allegedly violated the rights of the complainant.

The NHRC implored the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to direct the Navy Chief and the senior officers of the Nigerian Navy to appear before the Commission on the said date by 12 noon.

Prince Adetipe had in a petition, alleged that the Navy had terminated the company’s contract and engaged other building contractors at a construction site at the command of the Naval Building and Construction Company Ltd.

He also claimed that the Navy reneged on their joint venture agreement by refusing to declare the proceeds of the sale of the housing units and other developments, contrary to earlier signed agreement on May 19, 2015.

NHRC Summons Navy Chief Over Alleged Rights Abuse

Ibok-Ete Ibas, NHRC, Rights Abuse, NavyThe National Human ‎Rights Commission (NHRC) has summoned the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, to appear before it on September 26.

He has been invited to answer to allegations of human rights violation levelled against him and the Managing Director of Naval Building and Construction Company Limited, Commodore Abdul Adamu.

In the summons made available to Channels Television on Wednesday, the Commission said it was in receipt of a complaint by the Managing Director of Lexy Nigeria Limited, Prince Leye Adetipe, against Vice Admiral Ibas and some staff of the Navy whom allegedly violated the rights of the complainant.

The NHRC implored the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to direct the Navy Chief and the senior officers of the Nigerian Navy to appear before the Commission on the said date by 12 noon.

Prince Adetipe had in a petition, alleged that the Navy had terminated the company’s contract and engaged other building contractors at a construction site at the command of the Naval Building and Construction Company Ltd.

He also claimed that the Navy reneged on their joint venture agreement by refusing to declare the proceeds of the sale of the housing units and other developments, contrary to earlier signed agreement on May 19, 2015.

Adetipe accused the Navy of beating up some of their staff and other persons lawfully engaged by his company on February 19, 2016 and expressed worries that his life was in danger, as some naval ratings allegedly trailed his car on one occasion.

He has demanded for 10 billion Naira damages and asked the NHRC to grant him an injunction restraining the alleged violators from “tampering with me and members of the staff of the company and those legally engaged by my company at the site”.

NHRC Investigates Alleged Rights Violation By Nigerian Navy

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it will not hesitate to issue an interim order to halt the alleged illegal construction works at the command of the Naval Building and Construction Company Ltd., if the need arises after an on the spot assessment of the building site.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, gave the warning in Abuja Monday upon receiving an official petition from the Managing Director of Lexy Nigeria Limited, Prince Leye Adetipe.

In the petition, the alleged violators are listed as the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas and the Managing Director of Naval Building and Construction Company Limited, Commodore Abdul Adamu and staff of the Nigerian Navy.

The petitioner also alleged that the Navy violated their rights when they sacked them and engaged other building contractors and reneged on their joint venture agreement by refusing to declare the proceeds of the sale of the housing units and other developments, contrary to earlier signed agreement on May 19, 2015.

He also alleged that the Navy on February 19, 2016 beat up some of their staff and other persons lawfully engaged by his company and that his life was in danger, as some naval ratings allegedly trailed his car on one occasion.

In his prayers to the NHRC, Prince Adetipe demanded for 10 billion Naira damages.

He also urged the Commission to grant him an injunction restraining the alleged violators (listed above) from “tampering with me and members of the staff of the company and those legally engaged by my company at the site”.

Meanwhile, the Director Human Rights Monitoring, Mr Tony Ojukwu, has led a team of senior officials of the Commission for an “on the spot” assessment of the building site.

The inspection followed a directive by Professor Angwe, as a prelude to further investigations.

Edo Election Postponement: Security Agencies Must Do More To Earn Trust – Odinkalu

OdinkaluFormer Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu believes that the postponement of the Edo governorship election is not a good advertisement for Nigeria at the moment.

The election scheduled to hold on September 10 was shifted to September 28, following the advice of the Police and the Department of State Services on the matter, citing threats of attacks by insurgents that have terrorised the nation’s northeast in the last six years.

Professor Odinkalu said that the claims of the Police and DSS would have been more compelling if it had drawn on existing patterns of operations.

“Boko Haram has not run any operations in Edo state (and) there has been no bombing incident in Edo state since this administration has been in existence.

“Edo state has not been a major theatre of operations of any attacks,” he said.

While commending the progress made by the government and security agencies in the area of safety and security, he emphasized the need to truly earn the trust of Nigerians.

He explained that it would not be out of place for Nigerians to wonder how “an administration which has made progress in addressing safety and security in the most difficult parts of Nigeria in the northeast has got to run scared from elections in Edo state where there has been no recent history of operations by the insurgents”.

He added that the Edo security claim, coming “at a time when the same security agencies are flexing their muscles for citizens doing perfectly lawful things in Abuja, tasks credulity”.

He was referring to the incident in Abuja where security operatives prevented a peaceful procession of the BBOG campaigners on its way to see President Muhammadu Buhari, from reaching the Presidential Villa.

Prof. Odinkalu called on the Inspector-General of Police to pay attention to the negative message that the Edo election postponement would have sent to Nigerians, warning that if he wants to be trusted by the people, he has to do more.

There have been accusations that the ruling All Progressives Congress was behind the postponement of the election and Prof. Odinkalu believes that the suspicion is valid.

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