Nigeria’s human rights record has improved – Prof Ladan
Professor Mohammed Taofik Ladan is of the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a consultant to Nigeria’s Periodic Country Report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), which met at the Federal Ministry of Justice on Thursday. At the end of its review, he said the report shows the country recorded improvements in girl-child education, antihuman trafficking, and army-civil relations. Excerpts:
Based on the 6th periodic report, what is your assessment of Nigeria’s human rights record?
In the first instance human rights promotion and protection by any country in the world has never been a matter of excellence or perfection. Every country tries to improve on its human rights record for three reasons: one, the problems and issues vary from country to country as every administration is trying to address a particular human rights problem relating to children, women or some vulnerable groups in society including minorities, sexual, ethnic, religious etc. You are having also a set of other problems on human rights re-surfacing for instance in a country like Nigeria. The second point is that the promotion and protection of human rights is never a one day, one year or one tenure issue that any administration can claim that ‘no more human rights problems in any country’. It hasn’t happened in any country.
This reporting process or obligation is that a country like Nigeria that has ratified human rights issues on rights of all peoples in Nigeria are shared in groups to showcase every two years what legislative, policy measures and budgetary allocation for health, labour, anti-trafficking, justice dispensation. What are such measures that have been put in place by Nigeria to achieve the progressive realization of the rights enshrined in the charter?
Based on this report, what level is Nigeria?
As far as Nigeria is concerned, from the last report it shows that we have actually improved in our human rights record.
Are there specific dichotomies between the last report and this year’s report?
We are required to show in current report, which is the sixth report, that one, the number of children and girl-child that has actually been retained in schools and to show a data that there is impact on girl-child education. So the current report has shown that from 76.5 percent retention rate, it has actually gone to 86.7 percent completion rate of girlchild education nationwide, except for the north-east, which is because of the Boko Haram insurgency. It has reduced the percentage from 86.6 percent to about 74.1 percent only in the north -east, which means the Federal Government has in the last two years have had to scale up and from this sixth report, we have been able to show the scale-up.
One, the number of the rescued Chibok Girls being put into Unity Colleges and rehabilitation of destroyed schools in the north-east, particularly Borno and Yobe states, which has rekindled the resumption of the students for retention and completion rates to improve. And we have had as at December, 2016, 279.1 percent. But then we have not gotten the collation for the first and second quarter of 2017 because we have to wait up to the end of December before we can get that statistics to record.
Secondly, on the issue of rescued victims of trafficking, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has been one agency in Nigeria that has recorded great success in terms of rescuing victims of trafficking, prosecution of the offence of trafficking. And we have had the volume of prosecution across the federation and high courts raising the conviction rate from 15.5 percent in 2003 to 79.8 percent in December, 2016. We are yet to collate the data for first and second quarters of 2017. So these are two critical areas one can share with you.
One critical area we cannot run away from in our reporting circle is military and human rights in the counter insurgency operations. This particular point we were able to report and document that because of the series of allegations on the role of security and military in the counter insurgency operations violating human rights, we have a report that shows that the Federal Government engaged the military and the National Human Rights Commission, for the first time in this country, to set up a human rights desk at the Defence Headquarters.
Second, to also investigate all the allegations of human rights violations, and the report has been submitted, it is available on the website of National Human Rights Commission. It shows that there is a degree of openness, transparency and accountability with regards to human rights violations and investigating those violations so that we can actually share the way forward in terms of findings and know who to prosecute and why and who to discharge and why. So that is a step forward.
Professor Mohammed Taofik Ladan