By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, Thursday, described as worrisome, continued reports of human rights violations across the federation, saying it was capable of “constituting blight on our diplomatic relations with the rest of the world.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Annual General Assembly of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa, NNHRI, holding at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, in Abuja, yesterday, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, bemoaned that “in the recent past, human rights violations and abuses have held our people down and devalued our cherished values.”
He said: “On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I welcome all member and other participants to this Annual General Assembly. It is gratifying that the national institutions on human rights in West Africa are synergizing and building institutional bridges for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights in the sub-region.
“In the recent past, human rights violations and abuses have held our people down, devaluing our cherished values and constituting blight on our diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. Thankfully, with the restoration of democratic governance in all the countries in the sub-region, there are conscious efforts by governments in West Africa to ensure respect for, protection and fulfillment of human rights. In the case of Nigeria, our National Human Rights Commission has been repositioned to effectively discharge its mandate.
“I believe that this meeting will provide an opportunity for national human rights institutions in the sub-region to take a retrospective estimation of their work; share best practices and develop common platform for addressing challenges still impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights by our people.
“In the case of Nigeria, while we acknowledge that there are some challenges over security threats in some parts of the country, the government remains committed to protection of life, property and particularly the human rights of all persons in Nigeria.
“All security agencies are aware of this commitment and also obligated to ensure respect of human rights while carrying out their duties. Furthermore, government is committed to ensuring that any violation of human rights is investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. Let me assure participants of their safety and protection while in Nigeria,” he added.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Salamatu Hussaini-Suleiman, noted that “the timing of this meeting could not have been any better, coming, as it does, at a time when ECOWAS finds itself addressing alleged impunity and other forms of human rights violations perpetrated by terrorists and extremist groups in Mali and when the Community has responded appropriately by empanelling a group of Human Rights Observers, drawn from the members of this Network, to contribute to putting an end to these despicable and degrading acts.”
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