President Muhammadu Buhari has remained as evasive as ever on all issues pertaining to the security and welfare of all citizens as vested on him by the Constitution even as the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (UN) accused his government of not doing enough to stem the high level of killings, human rights violations among others by various agencies of government.
A report released recently released at the conclusion of its review of the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Nigeria queried the Federal delegation led by the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Amb. Audu Ayinla Kadiri, on a number of inadequacies of government including the killings of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the continued detention of its leader Sheikh Zakzaky.
Rather than provide appropriate and truthful explanations however, Amb Kadiri speaking for his principal, evaded all the questions posed to him.
The Committee Experts, Chaired by Ahmed Amin Fathalla, stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to find common ground so that the committee may formulate recommendations aiming to help the Government to move forward.
The evasive approach by the Nigerian delegation however meant that not much would ever be expected from the present government of buhari.
The full report is found below:
“Human Rights Committee reviews the situation of Civil and Political Rights in Nigeria
The Human Rights Committee concluded today its review of the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Nigeria.
Committee Experts pointed out that corruption remained rampant and that implementation of the legislation was weak. They also asked the delegation to comment on recent events, notably the killing of people in Biafra region and the killing of 350 people in Zaria, in Kaduna province.
The Experts also asked if there was a law that prohibited discrimination that would cover direct and intersected forms of discrimination.
Mr. Kadiri evaded talking about specifics, vaguely talking rather about the government’s commitment to the rule of law and the fight against corruption. He apologized for Nigeria’s inability to submit its second periodic report, adding that the responses provided by Nigeria did not answer all the questions raised in the list of issues and questions. Turning to self praise, he said the delegation had done its best to answer the Experts’ questions.
Mr Kadiri said the Nigerian delegation was a testimony to its commitment to the implementation of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.
The delegation of Nigeria consisted of representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, the Department of State Services, the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Mr. Kadiri stressed, rather falsely that the Nigerian Government was firmly committed to promote and protect the human rights of Nigerians. Regarding Sheikh Zazaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement, he had been set free by an Abuja Federal High Court judgement, rather than explain why they contemptuously defied the judgement, Kadiri said a different court in another state has called for his detention.
On hate speech, Experts asked about its legal definition and safeguards preventing overly broad interpretation. Could the delegation comment on concerns that libel accusations had been used to harass journalists who were critical of the Government? Could it also clarify whether current regulations related to peaceful assemblies required prior authorization by authorities? Were there any plans to adopt comprehensive minority rights protection measures, including on linguistic rights?
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, dodged those questions as well saying that answers to some of the follow-up questions had already been provided during the response to the first round of replies saying that, some of the other questions were really unexpected. He urged the Committee to exercise due diligence regarding the veracity of the information that it had received. “Some questions posed by Experts should not even have been brought to the delegation,” he said.
He went on to falsely inform the Experts that on arrests, a person, after being arrested, was taken to the police station, where he had the opportunity to give an account of what had happened. He had no explanation for why Sheikh Zakzaky was never handed over to the police after arrest by the Army.
He said, “to kill a fly, one needed not to use a hammer, and this principle guided the use of force in the country.” He could not explain however the use of excessive force in Zaria by the army to handle an alleged traffic offence, which resulted in the death of over 300 citizens, who were later buried in mass graves in Kaduna.
On the military’s alleged detention of a large number of women, Mr. Kadiri said that to the best of the delegation’s knowledge, this was not true. On the alleged arrests and persecution of bloggers, he said he was not aware of this.
The delegation said that no journalists had been detained. The harassment of journalists only existed in the realm of imagination. There was a free press in Nigeria. Certainly, the Government had electronic media outlets, but there were also several media outlets that were privately owned. In the capital, there was even a private radio focusing on human rights called Human Rights Radio & TV.
Turning to the issue of freedom of religion, the delegation stated that the law mentioned by the Committee was about open preaching. It did not target Christians, but rather everyone who sought to preach outside of places of worship. The law regulated the use of public space, and sought to prevent the propagation of ideas conducive to radicalization. On surveillance, in Nigeria, there was no targeting of people apart from the normal activities by law enforcement agencies to detect and prevent criminal activities. Kadiri has no explanations for the targeting of Shiites, particularly in Kaduna, where there rights to practice their faith have been outlawed.
That was how lies formed the basis of the Buhari government’s responses.