The National Human Rights Commission has called on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to support the Commission’s efforts at entrenching accountability among the law enforcement agencies, particularly the ongoing reform in the Nigerian Police Force.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu OFR, SAN who made this advocacy in Abuja when he received the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC) His Excellency Matthias Schmale stated that although there was a Whitepaper on permanent mechanism for dealing with police brutality, the Commission needed funding to continue with the work of the Independent Investigation Panel on Human Rights Violations by SARS and other police units.
The NHRC Boss noted that this became necessary if the country is to sustain the gains of the recently concluded Judicial Panel of Inquiries into alleged police brutality which sat in many states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
Ojukwu therefore appealed to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to support efforts of the country towards ensuring that such panels of inquiries are constituted on a regular basis to check the widespread impunity and brutality in the Nigerian Police.
On the Commission’s plan to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for credible 2023 general elections, the Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria informed the UN delegation that the Commission with the support of partners has embarked on a project, “MOVE”, meaning Mobilizing Voters for Elections.
“The project is aimed at ensuring the facilitation of citizens’ access to Permanent Voters Card, promoting citizens’ participation in the electoral process through access to PVC and ensuring that law enforcement and security agencies adopt human rights principles in protection of voters’ access and participation”, the Executive Secretary added.
The Executive Secretary also informed the UN RC that Nigeria is gearing up to the UPR in January 2024 and that ahead of that period, he was appointed as a Member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on UPR.
Other Directors present at the visit highlighted the various achievements recorded by the commission with the collaboration of other UN bodies like UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA, etc.
Responding, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said that although Nigeria was not among countries of priority in terms of support, there is still the possibility of advocating for support for the advancement of human rights while presenting Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP) at the quarterly meeting of Members States.
The UN top Official stated that the Commission could solicit for technical support through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, even as he reiterated the need for the Commission to work closely with Civil Society Organisations in the country to further enhance human rights protection.