The National Human Rights Commission said on Thursday, June 26 that it had received a petition from the members of the Jigawa Forum over the arrest and detention of 486 persons suspected to be Boko Haram members in Abia State.
In a statement by the commission’s Chief Press Officer, Fatimah Mohammed, the group, led by one Alhaji Ahmed Wanga, demanded an immediate release or prosecution of the detainees as they observed that the suspects had been detained for 10 days running.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, received the petition from the group on behalf of the NHRC.
The statement quoted Angwe as urging Nigerians to support the security agencies in their bid to combat insurgency, but also advised the security operatives “not to hide under the cover of security to infringe on the rights of the citizens.”
He also urged the security agencies to ensure that arrested persons were subjected to a screening process to separate those who for justifiable reasons were suspects, from those going about their normal businesses.
Prof. Angwe commended the group for not taking the laws into their hands but rather approached the commission which would ensure that the rights of the detained persons are enforced in line with the mandate.
The helmsman of NHRC also used the opportunity to reiterate that every Nigerian is entitled to his fundamental rights to freedom of movement and that “any attempt to breach this constitutional provision constitutes a setback to democracy” and therefore urged the relevant authorities to ensure that no citizen is detained unduly.
The Chief Executive Officer of NHRC described the current insecurity in the country as unfortunate and disturbing.
The chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu, has warned politicians and the electoral commission to desist from fraud and malpractices across Nigeria.
He also urged politicians to pursue accountability or risk public disgrace and full weight of the law, stressing that “the problem of election rigging cannot be solved without exposing and holding every culprit accountable”.
Professor Odinkalu was addressing a meeting between political parties and the rights commission held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Wednesday.
At least 14 representatives out of the 26 political parties in Nigeria were in attendance.
Some of the Political Parties representatives are set to join the fight for accountability but with the Human Rights Commission set to unearth past electoral fraud, it remains to be seen if these parties and other stakeholders will support this campaign that will guarantee good governance in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Commission said it was time for political office holders to be truly accountable to the people, a mission which the Commission is set to accomplish.
The Human Rights Commission put together a report reviewing Court decisions and election Tribunals from 2007 to 2011 which established violations of Electoral laws perpetrated by Electoral Officials, Security Personnel, Politicians and their Supporters.
Executive Director, Enough Is Enough, Yemi Adamolekun on Monday drew attention to the many other tragedies brought by the Boko Haram sect in the past few years, insisting that the #BringBackOurGirls is not just about the abducted school girls, but about the many lives that have been unaccounted for.
According to her the abduction of the 234 girls would have been silenced if not for protests and international attention, adding that 200 missing people in Chibok is the equivalent of 5 million people in Lagos State.
Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Adamolekun stated that the series of street protests in the country were making headway as they had gained attention and raised awareness.
She also cited a 2013 report of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, which had disclosed several cases of abduction in the North East, the killing of schoolboys in Buni Yadi and abduction of 20 girls in Borno.
“The number for the Chibok girls has raised this level of international awareness but I really don’t want people to forget that the pattern of abduction is new and the pattern of silence is not new,” she said.
She berated what seemed to be a disregard for human lives by the government as there were no agencies keeping records of victims of terrorism. “There is a fundamental issue with the way we respect lives in this country.”
She however stated that in the case of the Chibok girls, the onus rests on the Borno State government and the West Africa Examination Council to release comprehensive information to the public.
Some youths in Plateau State, Nigeria’s north-central region have asked the Federal Government and security agencies to redouble their efforts in fighting insurgency, as youths are the most vulnerable group to the attacks.
Speaking on behalf of Youth Network for Peace and Good Governance in Jos, Mr. Aondoma Tor, appealed to security agents to also speed up the rescue mission of abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State as the nation awaits positive result from the operation.
“We salute the actions of the little school girls in Chibok community, whom despite the carnage in Borno State, insisted on going to school to write their WAEC before they were abducted.
“The Federal Government must put together all resources within its power to ensure the safe release of the abducted school girls in Chibok.
“We call on the youths to provide support through information sharing and gathering for security personnel who try as much as they can to avoid further terror”, he said.
He also decried the state of unemployment in the country, which has left many graduates unable to afford a living. He noted that this situation makes it easy for the youths to become tools in the hands of politicians who intend to cause havoc.
He stated, “It is imperative that while the youths provide their own support and intelligence, the Federal Government must provide job opportunities to ensure that these youths are not distracted but rather are focused on empowering themselves and developing the community.”
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has promised to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of some applicants in last weekend’s nationwide recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
The commission made the pledge after receiving a petition from a civil society group, Citizens’ Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, in Abuja.
The Executive Director of Citizen’s Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, Frank Tietie, while presenting the petition, said that the Nigeria Immigration Service was wrong to have invited thousands of Nigerians for an aptitude test when they had only 4,500 vacancies.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, while promising to unravel the cause of the stampede that led to the loss of lives in some the recruitment centers, described the death of the applicants as a sad event that should not be allowed to repeat itself.
The National Human Rights Commission having promised to thoroughly investigate the incident, also promised to recommend punishment for those found culpable in the recruitment exercise.
The expectations of thousands of graduates waiting at the recruitment centres to get employment into the Nigeria Immigration Service were cut short as a result of a stampede at different venues of the interview.
Seven persons; five women and two men lost their lives during the incident.
The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has submitted himself to the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, for probe over criminal allegations against him by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Acting on the instruction of the president, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, forwarded Chief Obasanjo’s letter to the commission for investigation into the alleged rights violations contained in the letter.
The AGF, in a memo dated December 23 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, requested the commission to investigate the allegations bordering on human rights violations contained on page 9-10 of the letter.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who denied the allegations in his response, is specifically inviting the rights commission to unravel the truth in the allegation that his government had begun training over 1,000 snipers to terminate his political opponents.
The Commander of the Brigade of Guards, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, while insisting that the uncompleted building in Apo area of Abuja, which was raided by security operatives had indeed been occupied by members of the Boko Haram sect, has also expressed regrets over the killing of civilians during the raid.
Over three months after a team of security agents raided an uncompleted building in Apo area of Abuja, security agents are yet to recover ammunition which led to the killing of eleven squatters.
At the public hearing by the National Human Rights Commission to examine the incident, the Army commander explained why the security operatives made the decision to raid the building and how they went about it.
The hearing was in continuation of an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission, into the death of eight people when the combined team of the Army and State Security Service raided the uncompleted building.
The panel, presided over by the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NHRC, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, sought to find out if the operatives recovered the weapons which led to the raid in the first place. They also sought to know if the victims were members of the Boko Haram sect.
Representing the Chief of Army Staff, and giving a testimony on behalf of the Nigerian Army, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, said that a suspected Boko Haram member said to be living in the building is still at large.
“The Apo incident was unfortunate. The security agents acted proactively to prevent an incident which would have caused panic in Abuja.
“Our troops have no reason to kill anybody in covert operations; we always exercise restraint. The Apo incident was an isolated incident. Evidence abound that there were terrorists in the building,” he added.
While the National Human Rights Commission is still investigating the incident, relations of the victims of the Apo killings have demanded that the Federal Government pay the sum of 500million Naira as compensation and offer a public apology that the victims were innocent and not members of the Boko Haram sect.
The killing has raised concerns about military operations in fighting terrorism.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it is launching a probe into last week’s gun battle in Abuja between security agents and suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
About nine persons were said to have been killed with no fewer than 12 persons arrested during a raid by a combined team of soldiers and State Security Service (SSS) operatives on an uncompleted building in Abuja believed to have been inhabited by suspected terrorists.
Residents around the area said the uncompleted building where the attack took place was inhabited by homeless artisans and petty traders who could not afford the high rent in Abuja.
The NHRC alleges that the military and the SSS are trying to cover up the extra-judicial killing in Abuja by planting arms in the building to justify the official claim that it was a boko haram’s ammunition dump.
As part of the NHRC investigation into the controversial incident, the agency says, its officials will be interviewing witnesses and residents of the area as citizens, overwhelmed by the ordeals of the survivors, are now asking the security agencies to come clean about what “truly happened at the scene of the attack.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has entered into a partnership with the Nigerian movie industry (NOLLYWOOD) to promote activities that are geared towards dealing with issues of human rights violation through the production of movies aimed at addressing such ills. The new partnership according to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Bem Angwe would ensure that people have frequent and easy access to movies, jingles and messages that discourage abuse of peoples’ rights and at the same time promote discipline and hard-work among youths in the country.
Mr Angwe buttressed the crucial role which the Nollywood industry is playing in the society, as he recalled that child labour, forced prostitution and various forms of violence perpetrated against the vulnerable Nigerians have always been showcased and condemned by the Nollywood.
Earlier, the leader of the two groups and initiator of the next to non-support initiative, Ndukwe Obu, said they came to identify the various areas they could partner with the commission to ensure that Nigerians know their rights and that in the event such rights are violated, they follow the laid down procedure to get them redressed.
Mr Obu who led prominent Nigerian movie starts like Bruno Iwuoha, Sydney Diala among others to the commission said “enthronement of good leadership through human rights, advocacy, networking, education, information dissemination, empowerment and entertainment when necessary” informed the decision of the groups to identify with NHRC.
The Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has criticized the State Secret Service (SSS) for detaining two journalists for several days without charges. In a statement released on Saturday, the Chairman of the Commission, Chidi Odinkalu said the detention of Musa Mohammed Awwal and Aliyu Saleh, journalists with the weekly Hausa language newspaper Al-Mizan, did “not pass constitutional muster.”
Mr Odinkalu called on the SSS to allow commission staff to have access to the journalists, as they’ve been denied opportunities to meet with their lawyer or receive medical attention.
The two journalists were arrested on Monday morning at their homes in Kaduna. Their newspaper had published a series of stories about alleged military abuses and the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram.
Below is the full text of the statement issued by Mr Odinkalu:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, ABUJA, 29 DECEMBER 2012 Contact (sms only): 0803 41 90 668
PUBLIC STATEMENT BY CHIDI ANSELM ODINKALU, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA, ON THE CONTINUED DETENTION OF MUSA MOHAMMED AWWAL AND ALIYU SALEH, JOURNALISTS WITH AL-MIZAN, KADUNA, BY THE STATE SECURITY SERVICE (SSS)
The State Security Service (SSS) and other security agencies in Nigeria are obligated to comply with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in carrying out their important duties. As a result, they should ensure the arraignment of the Al-Mizan journalists presently in their custody, if investigations have disclosed their complicity in any crimes or release them promptly. In the interim the SSS should allow the detained journalists access to their families, medical attention or other legal representatives.
This statement also transmits a request and an offer to the SSS to allow the National Human Rights Commission access to the detained journalists to independently verify their state of health and conditions of detention.
On Friday, 21 December, Al-Mizan, a Hausa language newspaper published in Kaduna, Nigeria, ran a story alleging that operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) had rounded up 86 youths in Potiskum, Yobe State. The story was also posted up on Al-Mizan’s website www.almizan.info.
Around 04:00 hours on Monday, 24 December, two Al-Mizan workers, Musa Mohamed Awwal and Aliyu Saleh, were respectively picked up and taken away by heavily armed security operatives from their residences in Kaduna to undisclosed destinations. During the operation to take them away, both men allegedly assaulted by the security operatives.
At the residence of Musa Mohamed Awwal, his wife was also allegedly assaulted as she sought to find out the identities and authority of those who came to take away her husband. An adult son, who suffers from Sickle Cell and was also in the house at the time, was allegedly also assaulted before Musa Mohammed Awwal was taken away.
From the residence of Musa Mohammed Awwal, the security operatives allegedly took with them a lap-top computer and eight cellular telephone hand-sets belonging to different members of his family. From the residence of Aliyu Saleh, they also allegedly took away cellular hand-sets.
The security operatives reportedly did not identify themselves and did not directly accuse the two workers of any crimes during the course of this operation to take them away.
On the same day, also in Kaduna, another set of security operatives visited the residence of the Editor of Al-Mizan, Ibrahim Musa, which was subsequently ransacked. Following the visit by the security operatives, a lap-top computer and modem were allegedly found missing, presumed to have been taken away by the security operatives. There was no search warrant shown to anyone on the premises before or during this visit. Ibrahim Musa remains in hiding.
Following these security operations, the workers at Al-Mizan went around the various police stations in Kaduna to look for their colleagues. The Police denied holding them and sent around signals seeking confirmation as to their whereabouts. The SSS in Kaduna State subsequently confirmed that the operation had been undertaken by the SSS and that the two workers had been transferred to the SSS headquarters in Abuja. They have, however, not been granted access to anyone – family or other representatives.
Sections 35(4)-(5) of the 1999 Constitution require all persons arrested by the security agencies to be arraigned not later than 48 hours or within “such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable.” Under the Constitution, any detention beyond 48 hours must be authorized by a court. The constitution also requires humane treatment of detainees and suspects.
The continued detention of these two journalists without information as to their whereabouts, crimes for which they are suspected (if any), or conditions of their detention, does not pass constitutional muster.
Two condemned men in Edo state prison have been freed by the Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who granted amnesty to them in an exercise of his prerogative of mercy.
The governor said that the prisoners, Monday Odu, who was sentenced to death for conspiracy and murder while Callistus Ikem was sentenced to death for conspiracy and armed robbery were granted amnesty because they did not take the life of their victims.
Governor Oshiomhole faulted a recent claim by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that he had signed the death warrants of Mr Ikem and another prisoner, Mr Olu Fatogun, stating that while Mr Ikem has been granted pardon and released, Mr Fatogun’s sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.
He however explained that the two convicts he approved their death sentences were Osayinwinde Agbomien who dismembered his victim and hid the parts in several places to avoid detection and Daniel Nsofor who subjected his female victim to horrendous torture before killing her.
“We must be seen by carry out justice in all fairness” the governor said, explaining that the convicts he signed their death sentence committed gruesome murders and it will not be fair to let them live as they took other people’s lives.
He appealed to the NHRC that in matters of life and deaths, they should get their facts right before going public because, this he warns is what the international community will harp on.
Professor Chidi Odinkalu had on Tuesday asked the Right to Know Initiative to publish his attested assets declaration.
The newly appointed Chairperson of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commi-ssion, NHRC, sworn in late last year, is the first public official appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to declare his assets publicly.
Prof. Odinkalu has four bank accounts, two of which are with Standard Chartered Bank in Nigeria – one with N94,000 and the other with $11,700.
He’s also got two Barclays Bank accounts in the United Kingdom, containing £7,752 and £4,562 respectively; and an overdrawn Royal Bank of Scotland account.
Also declared were buildings owned by Mr. Odinkalu, including a mortgaged three-bedroom mid-terrace house in Edmonton, London and a four-bedroom semi-detached house in Lekki, Lagos.
The NHRC chairman also owns two vehicles, a Toyota RAV 4 purchased in 2004, and a Kia Rio purchased in 2005.
Professor Odinkalu further declared his personal pension plan managed by Friends Provident; shares and stocks worth about N3 million; 27 KVA Nioda generator, 7.5 KVA Inverter, and over 10,000 books, which he calls his “invaluable”.
Ene Enonche, National Co-ordinator, R2K, in a statement, said: “This disclosure is important in underlining the critical role NHRC must play to ensure effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. It is noteworthy that Prof. Odinkalu, who was a leading advocate of the FoI Act as a private citizen, has not shirked from the implications of the Act for him as a public official.
“Asset declarations are intended to protect the interests of both the public officers and the public whom they serve. Nigerians have a constitutional right to verify these facts, as government officials are elected and appointed to act as custodians of the public interests and must ensure they do not compromise their positions by seeking to wrongfully profit from public office.”