…Set to embark on FoIA sensitisation to MDAs
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The National Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Advancement development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in key areas to advance the work of human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu said there is need to constantly monitor and deal with various human rights violations including electoral violence, extra-judicial killings kidnappings and gender-based violence to safeguard citizens rights.
He spoke in Abuja on Monday while receiving the Executive Director HURIDAC Mr. Ayodele Ameen Bashir during the signing of the MoU at the commission’s headquarters, saying “capacity building is key to repositioning the Commission to effectively discharge its mandate.”
Earlier Mr. Bashir said there was need to address capacity gaps for the staff of the Commission and undertake research into emerging human rights challenges.
He said there is also need to leverage on artificial intelligence and social media to advance the course of Human rights promotion and protection in the country.
He stated that his organization is interested in strengthening the monitoring work of the NHRC and HURIDAC so as to ensure effective tracking,reporting and litigation of human rights violations in Nigeria.
He stated that HURIDAC is interested in working with the Commission to monitor and address human rights violations that may be associated with the 2019 general elections.
Meanwhile, the NHRC is to embark on a sensitization advocacy to all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Executive Secretary, NHRC Tony Ojukwu esq stated this in Abuja while exchanging views with visiting AU envoy and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Hon. Lawrence Mute.
He noted that seven years down the line, many Nigerians are not yet aware of the existence of FOIA and their rights under the Act.
Ojukwu stated that it is within the mandate of the Commission as a National Human Rights Institution to promote and facilitate the implementation of all human rights instruments that Nigeria is a party
The NHRC boss said in spite of the existence of the FOIA in the country, journalists and human rights defenders find it difficult to access information from public institutions.
According to Ojukwu, FOIA is grossly under-utilized despite the fact that the Act is a veritable tool for civil society groups and the Nigerian Press to engage the public as well as carry out legitimate
According to statement by Mr. Lambert Oparah, Director (Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, NHRC), Mr. Ojukwu was quoted to have stressed the need for capacity building of civil servants in order for them to have the requisite knowledge and skill to identify which category of information really
falls under Official Secret Act.
The Commission’s Chief Executive Officer stated that aside building the capacity of civil servants to improve their knowledge and skill in implementing the FOIA, public and private institutions should put in
place automated system in their various organizations, to make access to information easier.
He stated that the Commission will partner with the Federal Ministry of Justice and other relevant stakeholders in the full implementation of the FOI Act across the board, emphasizing that the regime will assist government in fighting corruption among other advantages.
Earlier, the visiting AU Special Rapporteur on FOI, Hon. Lawrence Mute said he was in Nigeria to assess the opportunities therein for Nigerians and level of implementation of the FOIA which Nigeria passed seven years ago.
He called on the NHRC to take advantage of its position as the apex human rights institution to ensure the full implementation of the FOIA.
The AU Special Rapporteur promised to support the Commission in building the capacity of her staff in providing the necessary drive for the implementation of FOIA in Nigeria.