PRESS BRIEFING: The foundation of insecurity by Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria(HURIWA)

The issue of insecurity in Nigeria is made worst by the unprecedented level of corruption amongst the members of the Federal Executive Council of this government and the stinking corruption by mostly the aides of the President. There are reports that most of them prior to the year 2015 before the coming of the government, were as wretched as Church rats. But few years down the line, there are reports that many of them have built immeasurable wealth and got huge assets to the amazement of some of the political thugs who were used to manipulate the electoral process and rig in the administration.

It is said that some of these thugs who felt short changed by those who they helped to gain political power have abandoned them and are now amassing massive wealth whereas they who helped to perpetrate electoral fraud are dying in penury and absolute poverty. And so those amongst the armed thugs who cannot bear the disappointments with equanimity, then opted for violence and criminality which is the result of what we are witnessing today. So the EFCC is simply chasing shadows by asking bankers to declare their assets when this same EFCC failed to pin down the sponsors of terrorism and the kidnappers who keep huge ransom in the same banks that CBN controls. So the EFCC needs to go after the aides of the President and the ministers most of whom were even too poor to drive one good car and lived in rented houses with some reportedly selling recharge cards to before political fortune smiled on them in 2015/2019.

The EFCC should conduct forensic investigations of how these persons who have been in government became stupendously wealthy contrary to their early wretched status which people around them can attest to, this is the roots of kidnappings.

Also, how many of the ministers have their kids in public school? This is why one of them as we will read told us parents to protect our children because government can’t protect children. The minister of state Education is bereft of sound information on the constitutional obligation of government.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) recognizes the right to life (section 33). All of the violent acts perpetrated by Boko Haram and other non-state actors constitute crimes under Nigerian law that the authorities should prevent and prosecute through the ordinary systems of law enforcement and criminal justice, in a manner compliant with Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.

The right to life is recognized and protected under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria ratified in June 1983 and domesticated in 1983 in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ratification and enforcement) Act Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

The same right is recognized and protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nigeria acceded in October 1993. These rights must be respected and ensured even “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation. This obligation is binding and compulsory.

Children’s right to education in safety northern Nigeria has been severely restricted or, in many cases, completely eradicated because of the frequent attacks, constant insecurity and direct attacks on schools, education personnel and pupils by suspected armed Fulani militants or bandits.

The right to education is not justiciable under the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) as Chapter 2 only outlines the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy. Section 18(1) states that the government “shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.”

The right to education in Nigeria is provided for by the Universal Basic Education Act 2004. Section 2(1) states that “every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age. Be that as it may, right education is an inalienable right.

In November 2011, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declared that the right to education for every Nigerian is a legally enforceable human right as guaranteed in Articles 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), which Nigeria has ratified and is legally binding on the government. The declaration was made as a result of a suit filed by the Nigerian NGO Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), alleging violation of the right to education by the federal government of Nigeria as guaranteed by the African Charter.

In 2003, the Federal government of Nigeria passed the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it also had to be passed at state level; however, many State Houses of Assembly, particularly northern states, failed to enact it. By the end of 2012, 26 states out of 36 had passed the bill into law. Only eight states in the north have passed the Child Rights Act into law. Borno state is yet to pass the bill into law.

There are also a plethora of specific provisions in Nigeria’s laws that seek to deter individuals or groups from destroying or damaging public or private properties, including education buildings and facilities. Section 443 of the Criminal Code Act 77 prohibits the unlawful destruction and damage of public or private property, including school buildings and structures. It states that “any person who wilfully or unlawfully sets fire to (a) any building or structure whatever, whether completed or not… is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life.”

Nigeria are in no way is not aware of any prosecutions under the above criminal provisions against alleged perpetrators of attacks on schools which have become frequent.

 Also, Nigeria is a state party to many international human rights treaties, which contain human rights provisions that the authorities are bound to respect, protect and fulfil. By ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, Articles 13-14) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, Articles 28 and 29), Nigeria is under an obligation to protect pupils’ right to education against interference by third parties. At the same time Nigeria is under a duty to progressively realize the right to education for all. This can be achieved through a range of measures including the encouragement of regular attendance at schools, reduction in dropout rates, and continual improvement in the material conditions of teaching staff (Article 28(e) of the CRC and Article 13(2)(e) of the ICESCR). In this respect, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has also made clear that education has to be within safe physical reach through attendance at a reasonably convenient location.

In its General Comment 13 on the right to education, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – the authoritative body that interprets the ICESCR – stated, “Education is both a human right in itself and a means of realizing other human rights. As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities. Education has a vital role in empowering women, safeguarding children from exploitative and hazardous labour and sexual exploitation, promoting human rights and democracy.” (Para. 1)

The unlawful killing of teachers or pupils by non-state actors is both a serious crime and an abuse of their right to life as well as a broader attack against education in northern Nigeria. As part of its obligations to protect the right to life and the right to education, the Nigerian government should bring perpetrators of such criminal acts to justice in a fair trial without recourse to the death penalty.

Take effective and lawful measures to prevent unlawful killings, particularly those of teachers and students, as well as attacks on schools by Boko Haram and other armed groups in northern Nigeria.

 Initiate prompt, effective and impartial investigations into all human rights abuses, and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials without application of the death penalty.
Provide adequate support to the affected state governments including affected states, to expeditiously rebuild and renovate all school buildings and facilities destroyed and damaged as a result of the sectarian violence in order to ensure that children’s access to education can be resumed as quickly as possible.

Ensure that all law enforcement operations are conducted in full accordance with the law.
(Anne- Marie Slaughter On February 13th 2017) wrote a profound piece on the primary duty of government and we in HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA). Here are her comments that we adopt: “The oldest and simplest justification for government is as protector: protecting citizens from violence.

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan describes a world of unrelenting insecurity without a government to provide the safety of law and order, protecting citizens from each other and from foreign foes. The horrors of little or no government to provide that function are on global display in the world’s many fragile states and essentially ungoverned regions. And indeed, when the chaos of war and disorder mounts too high, citizens will choose even despotic and fanatic governments, such as the Taliban and ISIS, over the depredations of warring bands.
The idea of government as protector requires taxes to fund, train and equip an army and a police force; to build courts and jails; and to elect or appoint the officials to pass and implement the laws citizens must not break. Regarding foreign threats, government as protector requires the ability to meet and treat with other governments as well as to fight them. This minimalist view of government is clearly on display in the early days of the American Republic, comprised of the President, Congress, Supreme Court and departments of Treasury, War, State and Justice.

The concept of government as provider comes next: government as provider of goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves. Government in this conception is the solution to collective action problems, the medium through which citizens create public goods that benefit everyone, but that are also subject to free-rider problems without some collective compulsion.

The basic economic infrastructure of human connectivity falls into this category: the means of physical travel, such as roads, bridges and ports of all kinds, and increasingly the means of virtual travel, such as broadband. All of this infrastructure can be, and typically initially is, provided by private entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to build a road, say, and charge users a toll, but the capital necessary is so great and the public benefit so obvious that ultimately the government takes over. (World Economic Forum)

 Unfortunately, the Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd),  said it is the responsibility of every citizen to be at alert amid the insecurity in Nigeria. Magashi made the disclosure during a chat with journalists as relayed in a video posted on Twitter by AIT.

He said people should show that they are not cowards by defending themselves. He said the operations of bandits are sometimes carried out with a few rounds of ammunition to cause fear on the citizenry. His words, “It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards. “At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition, when they fire shots everybody runs. “In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us. “I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capabilities to defend themselves.

‘Our own duty is to ensure that no Nigerian is hurt, and we are capable of protecting the integrity of this nation and we’ll continue to do it even though we are so stretched.” Commenting on whether the Nigeria government should permit citizens to carry arms, Magashi said, “Even in the developed countries, they are still debating on it, whether to continue or not. “But I don’t advise Nigeria to start issuing firearms for personal use.”

The Federal Government has emphasised the need for Nigerians to be vigilant to end attacks on schools and abduction of students. This amounts to blame shifting by a government put in place to enforce the law including the most primary obligation of government in section 14 (2) (b) which is to protect lives and property of Nigerians.

But to pour  salt on the injury the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, indicated that government could not secure every school in the country.

According to him, government has directed schools to report any security threat to the nearest security agency.

In the interview, the minister was asked what government was doing to protect schools from incessant attacks by bandits.

He responded, “Eternal vigilance is the price for security. Every nation is always concerned about the consciousness of its people. The Federal Government cannot secure every house. Everybody needs to be vigilant. We have passed this message to all our schools so that anywhere they are, if there is any threat, they know the nearest security agency to contact.”

Nwajiuba also claimed that almost all schools in the country were fenced. “Almost all the schools in Nigeria, whether private or owned by the Federal Government, are mostly all fenced, except maybe some state schools.

“As you may also be aware, even if you put up a fence, these people (bandits) have been known to come through gate”. 

This is a gratuitous insult and violence on our psyche by this incompetent minister of state for education.  He doesn’t know the responsibility of government to safeguard right to life. 
Since the National Assembly is headed slaves of the executive, the best bet is to recall them. 
Here is how:

Frequently Asked Questions On Recall Of A Member Of The National Assembly, House Of Assembly Of A State And Area Council Of The Federal Capital Territory

1.     Question: What is a Recall Petition?
Ans:  A petition submitted by electorates of a constituency for withdrawing their elected representative from a Legislative house.
2.     Question: What are the steps involved in recalling a legislator?
Ans: Submission of a petition to the Chairman of INEC, signed by more than 50% of the Registered Voters in the constituency, followed by a verification; and then a referendum.
3.     Question: Is Recall a function of INEC?
Ans: Sections 69 and 110 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) empowers INEC to conduct Recall proceedings against a member of the National Assembly, State House of Assembly, or the Area Council of the FCT, upon the receipt of a valid petition alleging a loss of confidence in the member, by more than 50% of voters registered to vote in that member’s constituency.
4.     Question: How long does a Recall process take?
Ans: The law provides that a Recall process must conclude within 90 days from the date of receipt of the petition.
5.     Question: Who can be Recalled?
Ans:  An elected legislator in the National Assembly, State House of Assembly and a councilor in an Area Council of the FCT.
6.     Question: Who can initiate Recall of an elected member?
Ans: A group of more than 50% of voters registered to vote in that member’s constituency.
7.     Question: How do I know the total number of Registered Voters in my Constituency?
Ans:  You can request for Certified True Copy (CTC) of Registered Voters in the constituency from the INEC office in the State.
8.     Question: Where can I get details of Polling Units?
Ans: At the State Offices or INEC website: www.inecnigeria.org
9.     Question: On receipt of a petition for Recall of a member, what does the Commission do?
Ans:  The Commission crosschecks the petition to confirm if it has been signed by more than half of the total registered voters in that constituency, and also if it is in line with the laws, regulations and guidelines for Recall.
10. Question: What if the petition did not meet up with the requirements?
Ans:  The petitioners are notified accordingly but they can represent the petition, if they so wish.
11. Question: Can petitioners withdraw their petition?
Ans: A petition for Recall can be withdrawn at any time before the conduct of Verification provided that the withdrawal is endorsed by the representatives of the petitioners.
12. Question: What is Verification in a Recall Proceeding?
Ans: It is the process of verifying the signatures of the signatories to the petition for a recall.
13. Question: Where is Verification conducted?
Ans: Verification is conducted at polling units in the constituency of the member petitioned against.
14. Question: Who participates in a Verification exercise?
Ans:  The signatories to the petition only.
15. Question: What is Referendum in a Recall process?
Ans:  It is an exercise where all Voters in the constituency of the Member petitioned against vote “YES” or “NO” to recall the Member.
16. Question: Who participates in a Referendum?
Ans:  All the registered voters in the Constituency of the member petitioned against.
17. Question: When is a Referendum successful?
Ans:  Where the “YES” vote is more than 50% of the registered voters in that member’s constituency.
18. Question: Where is Referendum conducted?
Ans: Referendum is conducted at polling units in the constituency of the member petitioned against.
19. Question: What happens when a member is Recalled?
Ans:  A Certificate of Recall is issued to the presiding officer of the affected legislative house. Subsequently, a bye election is conducted to fill the vacancy.
20. Question: Can a Recalled member re-contest?
Ans: There is no law that prevents a recalled member from
21. Question: Can a Chairman of an Area Council, Governor of a State or President of Nigeria be recalled?
Ans: NO, they can only be impeached. (National Independent Electoral Commission)

HURIWA is disappointed and shocked that the United Nation has yet to intervene in the attacks targeting schools. The UN is sick. 
This is what some experts say about the lethargic approach of UN to violence across the world.   “We are celebrating the 50 anniversary of the founding of the UN at a time when the  is in the throes of impotence, self-doubt and disillusionment occasion in part, by reckless and wanton violation of human rights across the globe. Such violations range from large-scale infractions of civil liberty as witnessed in contemporary theatres of internecine conflict to acts of overzealous state officials and agents of repressive regimes against their compatriots as well as isolated cases of denial or miscarriage of justice in otherwise normal or peaceful societies”.
“Fortunately, in the post-cold war unipolar world in which we live, the global news networks and the Internet or the so-called reformation superhighway have ensured the defeat of efforts by votaries of sovereignty and the domaine reserve to shield abuse of human rights by state officials through the argument that how a state treats its nationals was its exclusive business. And, perhaps no other institution has done greater for the cause of globalization of human rights than the UN, an organisation which from its inception had insisted that the quest for an international minimum standard of human rights be placed on the front-burner of, international discourse”.
“How has the UN fared to its self-appointed mission of being the sentinel f human rights in the world and, more especially, Africa?”
“What obstacles have strewn the path of realising this crucial assignment? What needs be done to ensure that the protection of human rights in African becomes less risky and more propitious?” (Africa And The Un System: The First Fity Year Edited By George A. Obiozor And Adekunle Ajala).
Press Briefing On March 19th 2021.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; National Coordinator, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

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