The 5th Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC or the Commission) held its 1st Statutory meeting on 16th September, 2021 at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja. The meeting was preceded by a 3-day Council/Management Retreat which attracted several dignitaries including the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Human Rights, the Administrator of the NJI, two former Executive Secretaries and a former Member of the Council together with the Management of the Commission . Other participants were from the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR), the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), the Solicitor General of the Federation, the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO) of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and the Media.
The Retreat Resource persons discussed several topics dealing with:
- Structure and Strategy;
- Institutional and Procedural Framework;
- Performance Improvement and Reforms;
- Human Rights Promotion and Agenda setting; and
- Other related issues.
At the said 1st Statutory meeting of the 5th Governing Council of the Commission, several memos to chart the course of the Council and the Commission were discussed.
In addition, some complaints of human rights violation from the four thematic complaint departments were considered.
At the end of the deliberations, the following resolutions were passed:
a. That four Standing Committees on:
- Appointment and Promotions;
- Finance and General Purposes;
- Complaints Handling; and
- Thematic Areas of Focus; be approved for the work of the Council.
b. That an Adhoc Council Committee be set up to conduct research, develop Terms of Reference (TOR) and concept, for the implementation of the provisions of the NHRC Amendment Act 2010 relating to the Human Rights Fund. That the Committee’s detailed report is expected within a time frame of two weeks from the adoption of the terms of reference.
c. That the Council develops a comprehensive Human Rights Agenda for the Year 2022 and for subsequent years in order to properly focus the work of the Council. It was further resolved that the Secretariat proposes the human rights priorities for Council consideration with basic focus on the right to education for vulnerable and street children.
d. That the International Human Rights Day activities on 10th December, 2021 should be used to mark the presentation of the Human Rights Agenda of the Council for 2022 and the roadmap for resourcing the Human Rights Fund amongst other programs and activities of the Commission which should all be given adequate publicity and visibility.
e. That a total of thirty five (35) complaints initially presented by the Secretariat should be considered. Ten (10) complaints were considered from each of the complaint departments of the Commission except the vulnerable Groups Dept that had five (5) and they are:
- Civil and Political Rights;
- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
- Women and Children; and
- The Vulnerable Groups.
The Council decided that some complaints should be closed having been fully investigated and settled.
The Council further decided that some complaints required further investigation while some were decided to be inadmissible because the issues were not within the mandate of the Commission or did not disclose any human rights violations.
f. That the National Action Plan for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NAP) once finalized and approved by the Federal Executive Council should be escalated to the Ministry responsible for National Planning and all development partners so that any intervention for funding on human rights in Nigeria should be within the scope of the NAP document.
g. That the Council should pay a courtesy call on the President, Commander- in-Chief of Nigeria to intimate him on the state of human rights in Nigeria and the need to prioritize human rights issues as a way forward to fulfill Nigeria national and international obligations and attract direct foreign investments to boost the economy.
h. That the memo presented for improved conditions of service and additional pension benefits for NHRC Staff and Management, should be represented with more information to enable Council take informed decisions on same.
i That the next Council meeting should be before the end of October, 2021 and that efforts should be made to put in place suitable infrastructure to enable the Council meet both virtually and physically in the near future.
The Council thanked the President and the National Assembly for reposing confidence in the members to champion the course of human rights promotion, protection and enforcement in Nigeria for the next four years.
The Council assured Nigerians that despite the numerous security challenges confronting Nigeria, it will do its best to champion the promotion and protection of human rights of all Nigerians and people living in Nigeria including the vulnerable groups and the poor such as; Persons with Disabilities, Women and Children, Street urchins and Almajiris, Internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants, trafficked persons, key populations and Older persons, amongst others.
Tony Ojukwu Esq.
National Human Rights Commission