Constitute human rights governing board now, HURIWA tells Buhari
The refusal, for over two years, to reconstitute the governing board of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by President Muhammadu Buhari clearly signpost an administration that has no regard for the human rights of the citizenry, a pro-democracy and non-governmental organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has said.
HURIWA said that beyond the manifestation of very poor human rights record of the Buhari’s administration in the last three and a half years, the rubbishing of the Commission could backfire in such a way that it may be downgraded in status internationally by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) because for any national human rights institution to enjoy top global rating, it must be independent in terms of management and operations which the lack of a statutory governing board has denied the commission as it is currently.
“The lack of a governing board has crippled the institution and has denied it of the global status as an independent, impartial and courageous ombudsman for the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of all citizens as clearly spelt out in the universal declarations of human rights, African Charter on peoples and human rights and the Nigerian constitution,” it said.
HURIWA, in a statement signed yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, accused president Buhari of undermining the independence of the rights institution by allowing it to operate for over two years without a “soul”. It also alleged that the agency has now been reduced in the estimation of government as a mere government agency as against the clear provisions of the statutory Act setting up the institution which grants it operational and funding autonomy.
HURIWA recalled that the governing council of the commission is so important legally to an extent that the enabling Act states that there shall be for the commission a governing council (in this Act referred to as “the Council”) that shall be responsible for the discharge of the functions of the Commission.
HURIWA claimed the NHRC cannot function optimally because the enabling law clearly states that the governing council shall be responsible for the discharge of the functions of the commission which is legally empowered to deal with all matters relating to the protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other International Treaties on human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Its functions also include to monitor and investigate all alleged cases of human rights violation in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendation to the President for the prosecution and such other actions as it may deem expedient in each circumstance among others.