The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Bem Angwe, has decried the incessant terrorist attacks, political, ethnic and religious clashes in parts of the country as having grave consequences for the promotion and protection of human rights. “There is increased occurrence of internal displacements resulting in more vulnerability and violations of human rights as a result of these crises,” he said.
Prof. Angwe who was addressing stakeholders Consultative Forum on the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NAP) in Enugu stated that there is an urgent need to ensure harmonious co-existence of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria so that Nigerians could enjoy their fundamental human rights to the fullest.
The Executive Secretary noted that issues of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance should be adequately addressed to reduce the increasing level of disharmony and violence in the polity.
Prof. Angwe called on the participants at the Forum to take advantage of their rich intellectual backgrounds and make frank contribution of a new national action plan on human rights which comes into effect by 2013.
In his presentation, Prof. Etannibi Alemika of the University of Jos and Consultant to the NAP observed that there are serious gaps in the existing NAP document which requires urgent action to address ahead of 2013.
Prof. Alemika noted that the issue of discrimination even within the family setting is a serious human rights abuse which most parents and society encourage by their action or inaction.
In his presentation, Consultant Professor, Nsongurua Udombana noted that the application of certain criteria in the admission policy of Nigerian higher institutions is very discriminatory and counter-productive. According to Prof. Udombana every eligible Nigerian child should be given opportunity to attend any level of education in his capacity without hindrance.
Dr. Martin Ejidike of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, stated that Nigeria as the most populous black nation deserve to provide the lead for other nations in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The international community, he said, is looking forward to Nigeria and Nigerians to continue to make progress in democratic march through the observance and implementation of human rights treats she has freely entered into.
The National Action Plan for the Promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria (NAP) is Nigeria’s response to the call by the Vienna Declaration and programme of action enjoining all nations to develop a national plan for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Nigeria’s NAP is deposited with the UN in 2009 and is subject to review in 2013.The Enugu meeting was to fill in existing gaps in the present document.
Meanwhile, Nasarawa State has joined the league of state governments that have donated offices to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in order to promote the enjoyment of human rights by persons living in their states. This brings to thirteen, the number of offices so far established by the Commission this year.
Speaking while receiving the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe, in his office, the State Governor, Alhaji Umar Tanko Al-Makura, observed that social decay had given rise to many human rights violations and concerted efforts must be made by all stakeholders to address numerous violations of human rights in the society.
The Governor expressed dismay over the high number of awaiting trial inmates he encountered during his periodic visits to prisons in the State and called for adequate steps to be taken to address the lingering problem. According to the Governor, core values of transparency and accountability must be promoted while vices like corruption and discrimination must be tackled frontally in order to achieve this objective.
He disclosed that part of Nasarawa State’s contribution to the current constitutional review process is to advocate for a provision in the constitution that will address the needs of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
Speaking earlier, Prof. Angwe expressed the gratitude of the Commission for the support offered by the State and promised to put it to good use. He however said “the implication of the gesture by the State Government is that the Governor is committed to uphold the human rights of all persons living in the state and is prepared to be held accountable when such rights are violated.”
Prof. Angwe said governments at all levels must take steps to promote and protect the rights of citizens, adding that respect for the dignity of the human person should be the guiding principles of all government policies and programmes.