Nige­ria’s hu­man rights record has im­proved – Prof Ladan

Daily Trust - - LAW - By John Chuks Azu

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

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