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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Statement at the Conclusion of the Promotion Mission of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Further to its mandate under Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), and following authorization by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Nigeria), a delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) undertook a Promotion Mission in Nigeria from 21 to 30 November 2016.

The Commission’s delegation comprised:

·       Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, the Commissioner Rapporteur responsible for the human rights situation in Nigeria and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa;

·       Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa; and

·       Ms. Eva Heza, Legal Officer at the Secretariat of the African Commission, assisting the Commissioners.

The objectives of the mission were, inter alia: to promote the African Charter and other regional and international human rights legal instruments; strengthen relations between the Commission and Nigeria with regard to the promotion and protection of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter and other relevant human rights instruments; collect information on the general human rights situation in Nigeria; engage in dialogue with the Government on the legislative and other measures taken to give full effect to the provisions of the African Charter and other instruments ratified by Nigeria, and where necessary identify the challenges faced; visit prisons and other detention centres in order to learn about the conditions of detention; monitor implementation of the recommendations made in the Report following the Mission that was undertaken in Nigeria in 2009 and the recommendations contained in the Commission’s Concluding Observations, adopted following Nigeria’s presentation of its 5th Periodic Report during the 56th Ordinary Session, held from 21 April to 07 May 2015, in Banjul, The Gambia. 

During the mission, the Delegation held discussions with various State and non-state actors involved in the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in Nigeria.

The Delegation held meetings with the following Ministers and Senior Government officials:

Ø The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation;

Ø The Secretary to the Government of the Federation;

Ø The Chief Justice and Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court;

Ø The Honourable Minister of Health;

Ø The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development;

Ø The Deputy Senate Leader;

Ø The Comptroller General of Prisons; and

Ø Senior representatives from the Ministry for Petroleum Resources;

The Delegation also met with the following:

Ø The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC);

Ø The President of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC);

Ø The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI);

Ø The Executive Secretary of the National University Commission (NUC);

Ø The Director General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD);

Ø The Director of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA);

Ø The President of the Nigerian Bar Association;

Ø The Acting Director of the Legal Aid Council; and

Ø Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) based in Abuja;

During the mission, the Delegation conducted a visit to Kuje Prison.

The Delegation commends the Government of Nigeria for its political will and commitment towards the effective enjoyment of human rights, including through the adoption, since the last visit of the Commission to Nigeria, of legislative and other measures to implement the African Charter and other ratified regional and international human rights instruments.

The Delegation notes the following positive developments:

i.       Adoption of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015), which inter alia, criminalizes Female Genital Mutilation and harmful traditional practices;

ii.      Adoption of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), which provides for the administration of a criminal justice system and promotes efficient management of criminal justice institutions;

iii.     The National Human Rights Commission Amendment Act of 2011 which guaranteed the independence of the NHRC and extends to it a quasi-judicial power for investigating and adopting legally binding decisions;

iv.     The commitment of the Government to ensure the rescue of the kidnapped Chibok girls;

v.      The enhanced security efforts of the Government to protect people in the North East of Nigeria from the scourge of Boko Haram attacks;

vi.     The establishment of the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI);

vii.    Interventions of various entities including the National Human Rights Commission and the Nigerian Bar Association to ensure that human rights and humanitarian law norms are observed in undertaking security operations and dealing with suspects; 

viii.   The establishment of a Senate Committee to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds allocated for humanitarian assistance to the North East;

ix.     The 15 July 2016 Report of the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the clashes between the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian Army in Zaria;

x.      The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project;

xi.     The efforts for achieving settlement with local actors including militants;

xii.    The existence of various initiatives including the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry for the Niger Delta Affairs;

xiii.   The Ogoniland clean-up and restoration program;

xiv.   The Petroleum Industry Roadmap, with its seven key areas called 7 Big Wins;

xv.    The efforts for achieving transparency in the extractive industries including through the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

In spite of these positive aspects, the Delegation is concerned about a number of challenges, including the following:

i.       Resurgence of agitations and militancy in the Niger Delta Region;

ii.      Reports of killings following incidents of violence between pastoralists and farmers;

iii.     Overcrowding of prisons and the situation of 70% of inmates awaiting trial for long period of time, some for more than ten years;

iv.     Backlog of cases in the judiciary;

v.      Allegations of excessive use of force by security forces in the context of public protests as highlighted by the clashes in Zaria;

vi.     The proper resourcing of administration of justice agencies including the NHRC and the Legal Aid Council;

vii.    The lack of certainty on the status of those who remain on death row for years.   

viii.   The lack of adequate funding, which affects crucial programs of the NHRC, NEITI, NCWD, NDDC, among others;

ix.        Allegations of sexual and gender based violence against women and girls in IDP camps and the existence of orphaned children;

x.         Allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law norms including excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and torture by security forces and civilian militia groups and the lack of independent investigation into these allegations;

xi.        The dire humanitarian situation of populations affected by the insecurity in the North East, particularly internally displaced persons and the challenges relating to the timely delivery of humanitarian support including food, water, health services, and full and coordinated access to humanitarian agencies;

xii.       Reports of severe restrictions on the movement of IDPs in camps under the supervision of the Nigerian army.

xiii.      Continuing problems of oil spillage and gas flare-ups;

xiv.      Dated policy and regulatory regime governing the extractive industries including weak regulations which do not hold the operation of the oil and gas industry to a high standard and ensure that revenues are used for development purposes;

xv.       The lack of effective implementation and delivery of various initiatives meant to resolve the problems of the Niger Delta.

The Commission will prepare a detailed mission report with specifics recommendations. Meanwhile, the Delegation would like to make the following preliminary recommendations:

i.       Ratify regional and international instruments, in particular the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, in addition to making the declaration under Article 34(6) of the African Court Protocol to allow individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court;

ii.      Urge Parliament, to expedite the adoption of laws including the Bill on Torture, the Disability Bill, the Petroleum Industry Bill, and other pending bills which have a bearing on the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria;

iii.     Urgently promote domestication of the Administration of Justice Act at the State level, in order to ensure the right to a speedy trial for all prisoners currently awaiting trial;

iv.     Intensify efforts to locate the Chibok girls and all other abducted civilians, bring the perpetrators to justice, in addition to ensuring the necessary support for their reintegration;

v.      Augment the provision of humanitarian assistance to the internally displaced persons in the North East of the country, in addition to ensuring access to justice for victims of human rights violations in the region;

vi.     Urges the Government to open independent investigations into violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed in the North East region;

vii.    Submit the next Periodic Report, in line with Article 62 of the African Charter and Article 26 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

To the international community, the Commission:

viii.   Calls for renewed commitment to fill in the funding shortfall for the humanitarian assistance in the North East region.

The Delegation wishes to express its gratitude to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for facilitating the mission and for the frankness and constructive dialogue with all the stakeholders. The Delegation expresses its particular appreciation to the Federal Ministry of Justice for making the mission a success.

Done in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 30 November 2016