The state of human rights in Nigeria is worrisome, ranging from deprivations in social rights and forceful marriage of abducted girls, a review by a rights group has shown.
In 2021 alone, 3,494 persons died in inter-communal clash and banditry related attacks alone, while over 5,290 others were kidnapped and ransom paid. Rghts of minors are being assaulted daily as abducted teenage school girls were converted to “wives” of terror lords. Worse, one (1) out of three (3) girls in Nigeria had suffered one form of abuse or the other,
Also, there are estimates of over 10 million out-of-school children and over 24 million homeless Nigerians, going by the litany of rights abuses listed by a non-governmental, the Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD) Nigeria.
In a statement to mark the International Human Rights Day
and titled Human Rights Day: Let’s make rights right”, and signed by its executive director, Comrade Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, and Head Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement, Barr. Femisi Akande, the Aba-based group noted; “…the numbers (with regards to rights index) are not encouraging as FENRAD would expect. Certain rights, like those of freedom expression, freedom to hold political opinion, and rights of indigenous people are under severe attacks in Nigeria by state and non-state actors. Country reports of Amnesty International, UN Groups or Country Team point to an alarming rights concern. But rights, themselves, to FENRAD, are inalienable and universal. Today, incorporated in Nigeria’s constitution, precisely Chapter 4, are basic rights which as a matter of obligation Nigeria is bound to protect at all times. Sadly, even federal and state governments have hardly done much to make basic the so-called basic rights. Education, shelter, clothing, job opportunities, all are basic rights which are not basic. Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children (over 10 million) and as well the highest population of homeless persons (24, 000, 000). Corruption and weak institutions have grossly undermined rights.”
Also, FENRAD recalled that a recent country visit of a UN expert spotlighted how rights of aged persons and senior citizens, are being violated through discriminatory and exclusionary practices, including withholding of pensions, perquisites and other pecuniary benefits due these persons.
“In Abia State, for example, not long ago, senior citizens took to the streets protesting against 20-year gratuity arrears. Virtually, in all the states, government workers too are owed salary backlog even after state governors had received bailout funds from the federal government, including budget facilities to help them fund their budgets. The result is widespread and pronounced poverty both statewide and nationwide.”
While noting that appreciable efforts were being made by states, the group asks for more.
“It is encouraging to note that 32 states have so
far domesticated the Child Rights Act, CRA while 34 others have domesticated Violence Against Persons Act, VAP Act.”
On torture, brutality and extortion by law enforcement agencies, FENRAD says worse things have happened under the guise of “fighting insurgency.”
“The rights bar has been lowered by soldiers and terrorists alike with women and children being victims. According to Amnesty International, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have suffered forced population transfer as many even died.
FENRAD urges state governments and parties to up their game in rights issue, ensure that all Nigerians are treated fairly.
The statement adds, “Nigeria’s place in Africa and the world at large leaves a bulky role towards rights protection on her shoulders. Nigeria has domestic, regional and global commitments when it comes to rights, FENRAD says. As a member of the Commission on Human and People’s Rights, AU, even at ECOWAS level, Nigeria has a commitment or more to keep. For this and other reasons, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC was established in the mid ’90s to help in the crusade for the protection of rights. Today, the UN Human Rights Council’s special procedures has a desk in Nigeria trying to assist in area of rights advocacy. Periodic reports are also harvested, but Nigeria must work with all rights-focused groups to deliver the mandate of rights, thus making rights right. It is only when there is freedom of the press; independent judiciary; pro-people National Assembly; respect for the rule of law as against rule of jungle; respect for minority rights including persons with disability (PWDs), political tolerance; supremacy of the constitution as the grundnorm; freedom of assembly (those still held in detention for participating in the youth-powered #EndSARS protests should be released unconditionally); social, political and economic inclusion for youth and women, FENRAD demands.
“Only when we build strong institutions in our laws, establishments, hearts and minds can rights be right and defences of human rights erected and the message of “Dignity,” “Freedom,” and “Justice” will have been delivered, FENRAD maintains.
“As the UN and the world prepare for the 75th anniversary of UDHR next year, 2023, Nigeria owes it herself to raise the bar and banner of rights to meet up with her expectations and commitments.”