We are de­ter­mined to end hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion –Bem Angwe

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

What mea­sures is the com­mis­sion tak­ing to en­sure that sol­diers and po­lice­men do not vi­o­late hu­man rights while dis­charg­ing their du­ties in trou­bled states such as the North East zones?

We have de­cided to adopt di­a­logue first. We are in­ter­act­ing with the sol­diers and the po­lice as well. I have re­ceived a let­ter from the Chief of Army Staff nom­i­nat­ing se­nior army of­fi­cers of the ranks of Gen­eral and above to rep­re­sent them in in­ter­act­ing with the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and we have also sent our own team to be in­ter­act­ing with them so that we will col­lab­o­rate to en­sure that the mil­i­tary no longer en­croaches on the rights of Nige­ri­ans. What about the Po­lice? At the same time, I wrote to the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice re­quest­ing him to also send a team of Po­lice of­fi­cers led by a DIG to be in­ter­act­ing with us so that we will have col­lab­o­ra­tion with them while work­ing on the is­sue. Presently, we have a res­i­dent li­ai­son of­fi­cer from the po­lice work­ing with the Com­mis­sion so that once we re­ceive cases of rights vi­o­la­tions by the po­lice, we will use the in­ner work­ings of the po­lice to fish out the cul­prits and that has been work­ing ef­fi­ciently. What we will do here in the Com­mis­sion is that, for all such po­lice of­fi­cer that had be­fore now re­fused to hon­our the in­vi­ta­tion or any law­ful di­rec­tive of the po­lice, we are go­ing to pros­e­cute them. We have their list and very soon we will share it to the media. This Com­mis­sion re­mains the in­stru­ment that will en­sure that true change has come into the coun­try. The change will not come only to the lead­er­ship of the coun­try but it must also re­flect in the at­ti­tude of the peo­ple and the in­sti­tu­tions that are re­spon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of the peo­ple’s right and also en­sure good gov­er­nance for the peo­ple. That is what we are de­ter­mined to do. With God and the peo­ple of Nige­ria on our side, we won’t dis­ap­point Nige­ri­ans.

What is your ad­vice to Nige­ri­ans on Hu­man Rights?

I ad­vise that ev­ery Nige­rian should be­come con­cerned about the re­spect for his or her own rights and where their rights are dis­re­spected they should come to the Com­mis­sion.

Sir, could you kindly trace the history of the Hu­man Right Com­mis­sion?

First of all, I will tell you that Pro­fes­sor Bem Angwe, the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Na­tional Hu­man Right Com­mis­sion (NHRC), in this in­ter­view traces the ori­gin of Hu­man Right. He speaks about his com­mis­sion’s ef­forts in ful­fill­ing its man­date. the history of the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion can be traced from the time of cre­ation. At the time of cre­ation, the world was cre­ated into two. We had the hu­man part of the world and the phys­i­cal part of the world. The hu­man part of the world con­sists of all hu­man be­ings while the phys­i­cal part of the world re­lates to all the things that God cre­ated for the ben­e­fit of mankind. At the time of cre­ation, there was no leader, no supernatural be­ing was cre­ated to rule over any hu­man be­ing but with the cre­ation of state, it made way to what is called state power. The use of state power now started the vi­o­la­tion of the rights of hu­man be­ings. So the states of the world said that they needed to give back to hu­man­ity the dig­nity of hu­man­ity.

So in 1993, all the na­tions of the world came to­gether in Paris and re­solved through the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly res­o­lu­tion that ev­ery na­tion must es­tab­lish a hu­man rights com­mis­sion to demon­strate that the states ex­ist by rea­son of the will­ing­ness of the man­date of the peo­ple to es­tab­lish gov­ern­ment. So the gov­ern­ment must now be re­spon­si­ble for the pro­mo­tion of the pro­tec­tion of the en­force­ment of the rights of the peo­ple.

What about the history of the Na­tional Hu­man Right Com­mis­sion and how far has the Com­mis­sion gone on the man­date?

In 1993, Nige­ria was ruled by a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment so the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment did not es­tab­lish the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion un­til 1995 fol­low­ing the in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion against the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship of Gen­eral Sani Abacha be­cause of the ex­e­cu­tion of Ken Saro Wiwa.

Gen­eral Abacha es­tab­lished the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and the de­cree was signed on the 27th Septem­ber 1995. But, the in­sti­tu­tion was not given all the pow­ers that were en­shrined in the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly res­o­lu­tion of 1993. For in­stance the in­sti­tu­tion was not given the in­de­pen­dence that was re­quired and the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s ten­ure was not guar­an­teed, so the com­mis­sion then had no power to take de­ci­sions that were bind­ing un­til on the 25th day Fe­bru­ary, 2011 to be pre­cise, when the for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan signed into law a Bill by the Na­tional Assem­bly amend­ing the es­tab­lish­ment act of the com­mis­sion.

This Act to­day gives the com­mis­sion the in­de­pen­dence of op­er­a­tion and it specif­i­cally states that in car­ry­ing out the oper­a­tions, the com­mis­sion is not sub­ject to the di­rec­tion or con­trol of any­body in au­thor­ity. The com­mis­sion can also in­ves­ti­gate and take de­ci­sions that are bind­ing like judg­ments of the court. The com­mis­sion can also give di­rec­tives with re­spect to re­view­ing ex­ist­ing poli­cies to ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures of states and di­rect that such mea­sures should be re­viewed or re­versed. In ad­di­tion to that, the com­mis­sion can give or­ders to pre­vent the oc­cur­rence of a hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion where there is a like­li­hood of the vi­o­la­tions of the rights of Nige­ri­ans. It then means that any Nige­rian who is afraid that his right may be vi­o­lated can come to the com­mis­sion and cry “I fear that my rights would be vi­o­lated” and the com­mis­sion will give in­terim or­der pre­vent­ing the vi­o­la­tions of such per­son’s rights. It is in the ex­er­cise of such pow­ers that few weeks ago, when the at­ten­tion of this com­mis­sion was drawn to a planned mar­riage of a man of 40 years and a girl of 13years; we used the in­stru­ment es­tab­lish­ing the com­mis­sion to stop the con­sum­ma­tion of the mar­riage. It didn’t take place. So by 27th of Septem­ber, this com­mis­sion will be 20 years old. It fell on a year when Nige­ri­ans have de­cided that Nige­ria has come of age as a demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion and they have demon­strated that in very clear terms.

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