The two Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights who are on promotion mission to Nigeria had commended Nigeria for her political will and commitment towards the effective adherence of human rights, including the adoption of legislative and other measures to implement the African Charter and other ratified regional and international human rights instruments.
One of them, Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor who led a delegation of the Commission made this known while briefing journalists on the outcome of the promotion mission of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to Nigeria on Wednesday at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.
Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN quoted Asuagbor as saying that they are in Nigeria on the mandate under Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and authorization by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Isah said she disclosed that the delegation that undertook a promotion mission in Nigeria between 21st and 30th November, 2016 noticed positive developments in the country in these specific areas:
I) Adoption of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015), which inter alia, criminalizes female Genital Mutilation and harmful traditional practices.
II) Adoption of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act(2015), which provides for the administration of criminal justice system and promotes efficient management of criminal justice institutions.
III) The National Human Rights Amendment Act (2011) which guaranteed the independence of the NHRC and extended to it a quasi-judicial power for investigating and adopting legally binding decisions.
IV) The commitment of the government to ensure the rescue of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
V) The enhanced security efforts of the government to protect people in the North East of Nigeria from the scourge of Boko Haram attacks.
VI) The establishment of the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI).
VII) Interventions of various entities including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Nigerian Bar Association to ensure that human rights and humanitarian law norms are observed in undertaking security operations and dealings with suspects.
VIII) The establishment of a Senate Committee to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds allocated for humanitarian assistance to the North East.
IX) The 15th July, 2016 report of the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the clashes between the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and Nigerian Army in Zaria.
X) The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project.
XI) The efforts for achieving settlement with local actors including militants.
XII) The existence of various initiatives including the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry for the Niger Delta Affairs.
XIII) The Ogoniland clean-up and restoration program.
XIV) The Petroleum Industry Roadmap with its seven key areas called 7 Big Wins.
XV) The efforts for achieving transparency in the extractive industries through the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency initiative.
The delegation that made a painstaking inroad into bureaucratic processes of some MDAs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, identified that inspite of the huge successes recoded by government on human and people’s rights, a lot was still left undone.
Asuagbor said, “Inspite of these positive aspects, the delegation is concerned about a number of challenges, including the following”
i) Resurgence of agitations and militancy in the Niger Delta Region.
ii) Reports of killings following incidents of violence between pastoralists and farmers.
iii) Overcrowding of prisons and the situation of 70% of inmates awaiting trial for long period of time, some more than ten years.
iv) Backlog of cases in the judiciary.
v) Allegations of excessive use of force by security forces in the context of public protests as highlighted by the clashes in Zaria.
vi) The proper resourcing of administration of justice agencies including the NHRC and Legal Aid Agency.
vii) The lack of certainty on the status of those who remain on death row for years.
viii) The lack of adequate funding, which affects crucial programs of the NHRC, NEITI, NDDC etc.
ix) Allegations of sexual and gender based violence against women and girls in IDP camps and the existence of orphaned children.
x) Allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law norms including excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and torture by security forces and civilian militia groups and lack of independent investigation into these allegations.