The National Human Rights Commission is in receipt of a report that on Friday the 26th of April 2019 armed security officers led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) under the auspices of the FCT Joint Task Force raided night clubs and the streets of Abuja.
They claimed that the raids were intended to arrest prostitutes. About 71 women were arrested and held in different police stations in Abuja.
In these raids none or very few men were arrested. Victims of the raids made serious allegations of rape, sexual harassment; and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
This was one of many raids purportedly carried out by AEPB and the FCT Joint Task Force regularly. Similar complaints have been received by the Commission from several states of the country.
In line with the mandate of the Commission to receive complaints on human rights violations, monitor and investigate such allegations with a view to making appropriate determination in the circumstance, the Commission has constituted a Special Panel of Investigation on the incidents in Abuja and other parts of the country.
The Terms of Reference of the Panel of investigation are as follows:
a. Review extant laws and regulations applicable to Joint Task Forces in the country and FCT in particular especially the Abuja Environmental Projection Board (AEPB) and whether such laws and regulations are compliant with Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitutions and other international human rights conventions and protocols applicable to Nigeria.
b. Hear complainants and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
c. Investigate matters of conduct and discipline of the Joint Task Forces including the AEPB, the Police and other law enforcement agent during raids especially as it affects women and girls within the past ten (10) years.
d. Identify individuals directly responsible for any violations and abuses and make recommendations for further actions including but not limited to prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and damages.
e. Develop clear guidelines for inspections and raids in the country by task forces that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of abuse and overreach by state agents.
f. Identify victims of violation and abuse during these raids by task forces and ensure adequate remedy to these victims and accountability for the violations thereto.
g. Any other issues relevant for the consideration or determination of the issues
h. Proffer recommendations to appropriate authorities on the terms of reference and or any other issues related thereto
The Special Panel of Investigation has three (3) months to submit its report to the Vice President.
In executing this assignment, the Commission shall exercise its powers under Sections 5 & 6 of the NHRC Act 1995 (as amended), and in keeping with Rules of Confidentiality and Complaints Treatment under 62, 74, 75, 76, etc of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission
The Commission hereby calls on interested members of the public, Governmental/Non-Governmental Organizations, International Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations to submit memoranda in line with the above Terms of Reference.
The sittings of the Panel of Investigation will be held in Abuja and other parts of the country on dates and venues to be announced later. Other members of the public who wish to provide useful information may wish to come forward with such information during the sittings of the Panel or submit memoranda to that effect.
All memoranda shall be submitted in twelve (12) copies within three (3) weeks from the date of this publication. Each memorandum shall be accompanied by a deposition in accordance with the Oaths Act.
All memoranda are to be addressed to:
The Executive Secretary
National Human Rights Commission
Aguiyi Ironsi Street,
Maitama, Abuja, FCT.