Advocacy and human rights education are potent tools in addressing human rights challenges, the Executive Secretary National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq has said.
Ojukwu who stated this during a press interview in Abuja noted that though the Commission has a duty to remind government of its obligations, large scale human rights violations has made citizens to erroneously expect the Commission to go beyond its mandate.
“Whereas the Commission has the mandate to promote, protect and enforce human rights in the country, it cannot investigate or prosecute criminal offences such kidnappings, murder and other atrocious crimes which the Police and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) are constitutionally empowered to assume responsibility, though the Commission can handle human rights violations associated with such criminalities in line with its enabling Act”.
He said that the Commission is leveraging on it’s power of advocacy to spread the gospel of human rights covering it’s various thematic areas like Women, Children and other Vulnerable Group, Civil and Political Rights, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Environment, Business and Human Rights etc and that so far the Commission has successfully raised the bar of human rights awareness in the country.
“The Commission organises public inquiry on various forms of human rights violations like the Presidential Investigation Panel on allegations of human rights violations against the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police and the Commission will soon organise a public hearing in the six geopolitical zones on alleged sexual violence being perpetrated against women”, Ojukwu said.
The Executive Secretary stated that the Commission has since June 3rd, 2019 submitted report of it’s findings to the federal government on the SARS inquiry and recommend the establishment of state and local government Police as panacea to insecurity and various forms of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by the the Nigerian Police.
He said that with the Commission’s sustained human rights advocacy coupled with the establishment of offices in all the states of the federation, increased access to the public and boosted complaints flow to one million per year.
The Executive Secretary said that the work of the Commission cannot be seen physically but is felt considering the fact that if human rights infractions like communal clashes and assaults are not nipped in the bud by the Commission, it could trigger unimaginable wide scale violations.
He said that despite the lean resources available to the Commission, it has continually partnered with other government agencies, national and international organisations to work out modalities towards addressing the emerging human rights issues.
“In a bid to further entrench a culture of human rights in Nigeria, the Commission before the inauguration of the current Ministers, drew up human rights based agenda to be mainstreamed in governance in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”, Ojukwu stated.