Lagos, Monday, October 13, 2014: The Stop Impunity Nigeria (S.I.N.) Campaign today welcomed the decision of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission “to work towards addressing the culture of impunity in the country” and pledged to collaborate with the Commission.
In a statement in Lagos, the Campaign contended that impunity had become the single biggest challenge confronting the Nigerian nation, saying that it would require committed and sustained efforts by agencies such as the National Human Rights Commission, working in concert with civil society organizations and other actors, to effectively address the problem.
The Governing Council of the NHRC issued a communiqué over the weekend, at the end of its third Statutory Meeting held in Owerri, Imo State, on October 9 to 11, 2014, wherein it expressed the determination of the Commission to work towards addressing the culture of impunity in the country.
The S.I.N. campaign coordinator, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, of Human Development Initiatives (HDI), noted that given their common objective to eradicate impunity in Nigeria, the Campaign was keen to strengthen its collaboration with the NHRC on this task, especially in its focus thematic areas of rule of law; public finance management; partriotism, ethics and civic responsibility; as well as electoral processes.
Prof. Owasanoye said the Campaign shared the NHRC’s view, expressed in the Communique, that the “effective participation by every willing, eligible voter and candidate in electoral contests is a human right guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a party and that free exercise of this right enhances the sense of citizenship and social inclusion and confers credibility and legitimacy on the electoral process and on governance.”
The Campaign accepted the Commission’s offer to collaborate with “all persons, institutions and agencies” in effectively monitoring and addressing “all crimes associated with electoral violence” in the country.
Observing that the NHRC’s decision was timely, the Campaign noted that it was coming at a time when the country is witnessing disturbing signs that there might be escalation of incidents of impunity related to the 2015 elections if concerted action is not taken and cited recent attacks on the residences of members of the Edo State House of Assembly as well as controversies over mode of emergence of party flag-bearers in the forthcoming elections.
Prof. Owasanoye said: “We commend the National Human Rights Commission for developing a framework to guarantee the right to political participation and other associated rights in Nigeria, including the right to vote and be voted for in a safe and secured environment, as the 2015 elections approach. This is an area where our Campaign members are also working strenuously to make a difference and we are confident that collaboration between us and the NHRC can only make our common efforts more effective.”
It also endorsed the Council’s calls for inter-agency cooperation among “all relevant state institutions to ensure effective deployment of appropriate levels of state assets and resources to address factors that might impede the safe exercise of the right to political participation by all eligible citizens of Nigeria including those displaced in the North-East in the forthcoming 2015 General Elections.”
The Campaign called on civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and other stakeholders to join the campaign in speaking out through their various organs and platforms against acts of impunity. In particular, it called on the political parties, security agencies and other duty bearers to live up to their responsibilities, and do away with the “do or die” attitude to elections.
For further information, please contact:
Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda, Lagos