To sustain its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the United Nations must work to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to use all of the looted funds from Nigeria to develop critical infrastructure that enhances the chances of Nigerians to succeed at home.
Nigeria must also make a list of beneficial ownership of all companies and property owned by Nigerians locally and abroad so as to use proceeds from taxes from these companies and property for the rest of Nigerians.
These were the demands of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, in a speech in commemoration of the World Human Rights Day by its Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor.
The speech was delivered on his behalf by the organization’s Program Manager, Comrade Bob Majiri-Oghene Etemiku at the organization’s secretariat in Benin City, Edo State of Nigeria.
Nigerians have the right to migrate
Rev Ugolor said that besides the International theme: “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always’ for this year, ANEEJ adopted a sub-theme: Dignity in Migration – to raise awareness on the plight of the rights of the many young people from Edo state and Nigeria in general seeking greener pastures abroad.
“ANEEJ believes that Nigerians have the right to migrate via a process which does not subject them to being sold as slaves and prostitutes.
“We are all too familiar with the many photos on social media of Nigerians being hung on sticks like chicken and goats and sold like merchandise in the common markets of Libya and in the Middle East for $400 (about N150,000).”
He recalled that what actually brought these pictures to light was the incidence of the 26 Nigerian girls who had died at sea trying to cross the Mediterranean into Lampedusa en route Europe.
That apart, he continued, there have been local incidences here in Nigeria, and in particular Edo State where a certain unit of the police, SARS, handcuffed a suspect to their vehicle and dragged him along the road as they drove on.
“There are other instances wherein soldiers have beaten people to coma just because they have made some mistakes, and which could have been handled by the law,” Ugolor bemoaned.
In all these cases, he noted, ANEEJ has been at the forefront, calling on government to rein in overzealous security personnel, citing the following actions:
In a press release of May 10, 2017, ANEEJ called on the Federal Government to stop police brutality, and which became a catalyst for the call for the review of the police unit known as SARS.
In July 13, 2017, ANEEJ equally raised her voice against the call on all Igbos residing in the North to leave. We were consistent in our resolve that as Nigerians, anyone had the right to live anywhere in Nigeria.
In another press release of November 7 this year, ANEEJ and EWDI called for the investigation into circumstances leading to the deaths of those Nigerian girls in the Mediterranean Sea.
What happened afterwards was interesting. Not only did the Federal government send an envoy to Italy, the Vice President and the National Assembly began to initiate moves to bring our people being sold in Libya as slaves and prostitutes home.
Moving forward from handwringing over the incidence of the rights of Nigerians who seek greener pastures abroad, we also came up with another press statement on the 30th of November calling on government to be proactive with issues of the migration of our people abroad. Part of that statement to the press reads thus:
“Nigeria currently has a population of 182million, with half of that number being young people under 30 years old. Therefore, to harness the raw energy inherent in these young people for optimum productivity, government must engage them in areas like sports, technology, entertainment and entrepreneurship.”
He said ANEEJ position therefore concerning the issues of migration was built around how corruption breeds illegal migration.
His words: “We believe that if the $27billion which come to Nigeria in crude oil sales in 2016 was equitably distributed in an accountable and transparent manner, and in a country adjudged as having the largest GDP in Africa, our young people would not have any reason to migrate to lands where they would become items for sale in markets and brothels.
“We believe that for the UN to sustain its Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, it must work to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to use all of the looted funds from Nigeria to develop critical infrastructure that enhances the chances of Nigerians to succeed in Nigeria.”
ANEEJ as an organization, he stated wants the Federal and Edo State governments to consider, and act on the recommendation of The Justice Development and Peace Commissions/Caritas Nigeria of the Catholic Church of Nigeria.
“We join this body to urge the Federal Government to address the issues of local government autonomy, human trafficking/illegal migration, bad condition of prisoners/prisons, internally displaced persons, Non-Governmental Organization Regulatory Bill, environmental degradation and kidnappings.”
Earlier in the speech, Ugolor talked to his audience about the importance of human rights day:
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to join everyone in celebrating the World Human Rights Day, a day designated by the United Nations to commemorate human Rights.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and two years after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution 423 inviting every state and government to observe Dec 10 every year as Human Rights day.
This year, Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Because Dec 10 of this year falls on a Holy Day, Sunday, ANEEJ Board of governors decided to shift the celebration to today the 11th as a commemorative event.
Apart from that, this year’s commemoration started about a year ago with the 50th Anniversary of two International Covenants on human Rights: one, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and two, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These rights were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
As you may be aware, the international theme for this year is “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always,’ ‘to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on the 50th anniversary of the Human Rights Day.
The UN motto/hashtag is #StandUp4HumanRights, and the spirit behind that motto is to encourage us all to recognize that our shared humanity finds its roots in the universal values embedded in our rights as human beings, that equality, justice and freedom can prevent violence.