Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,
has reassured of the continued observance of human rights by the present administration, insisting that citizens have since the beginning of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government have had their fundamental human rights respected.
Speaking at the inauguration of the 5th Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja on Monday, Malami said the Federal Government has complied with various rulings on human rights and has paid damages awarded against it.
He said the 2010 amendment has provided that in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its powers, the Commission shall not be under the control of any authority or person, stressing that: “All these measures have been taken to ensure that the Commission is able to advise the Government properly in the fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and protect and promote the human rights of Nigerians and persons living in Nigeria without fear or favour in line with the Paris Principles.”
He added that: “It is known fact that the present government had complied with the award of damages for victims of the 2012 Apo killings of Okada riders by security agents, as well complied with the 2018 White paper recommendations on Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police.”
He noted that: “The disbandment of SARS and the setting up of various panels of Inquiry investigating and awarding damages for human rights violations by SARS is a clear testimony to the fact that this government is fulfilling its international obligation to set up an independent National Human Rights Commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of Nigerians.”
He said: “I am happy to note that in recognition of the compliance of the Commission with the Paris Principles, the Commission has been graded with ‘A Status’ in the comity of national Human Rights Institutions by the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). The Commission has affiliate status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. These give the Commission access to all necessary meetings at the UN and AU Levels. This is indeed gratifying and it beholds on the Governing Council to uphold and improve on the standard achieved by the previous Councils and the Management of the Commission before now.”
The Council Chairperson, Dr. Salamatu Suleiman in her address said nations are judged by their human rights record, even as she promised to brace up to the task before her Council.
She however appealed for improved welfare for the staff, insisting that it was unhealthy and something of shame for the staff of the Council to be poached by Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) because they are badly remunerated.
In his welcome speech, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu disclosed that the Commission and the Ministry of Justice is presently working with stakeholders to finalize the National Policy for the protection of civilians in armed conflict as well as the National Action Plan for the promotion and protection of human rights, which includes the new feature of the plan for business and human rights.
He added that: “The management and staff earnestly hope that the Council will continue to prioritize both the mandate and welfare of staff as both are intrinsically connected for the achievement of the objectives for which the Commission was set up by the founding fathers.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja