NBA, NHRC, NETF plan to battle human rights abuses in North East

NBA President AB Mahmoud

President of the Nigerian Bar Association, A B Mahmoud, SAN has brokered a collaboration between NBA and National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, as well as Human Rights Agenda and Networks in a concerted bid to fight cases of human rights abuses which have become widespread in the embattled North Eastern axis of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This collaborative effort came out of a working visit which a delegation led by Acting Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, Lady Oti Ovrawah paid to President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, A B Mahmoud, SAN at the association’s headquarters, in Abuja.

The NBA president welcomed the visitors and appreciated their efforts at reaching out to the NBA to forge a common front to battle the rampancy of human rights abuses ravaging the nooks and crannies of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.

“Our mandate in the North East is far reaching and very broad,” says A B Mahmoud, SAN. “Some of our members have been killed, some have been injured, some have been displaced. Legal practice has been impacted negatively.

“It reaches the wider society: you have women who have been widowed, children who have been orphaned – millions of them in various IDP camps across Borno State, Adamawa and Yobe.
“We are very concerned about human rights abuses in these areas and are determined to contribute our own quota to the amelioration of this sordid situation.
“We, in NBA, are willing and ready to collaborate with National Human Rights Commission and other stake holders who are working in the areas of human rights protection.
“We created the North East Task For5 to take care of that.

” I believe the Task Force has already taken steps to actualize its mandate. The last time I met the chairman, he gave me an over view of what they have done so far and their work plan
” He has taken a census of the people affected. Part of their mandate in to visit the Governors of the affected areas and see how they can collaborate.

“We’ll be very happy and delighted to team up with the National Human Rights Commission and its associates the only thing is that you have already come up with your plans and programmes. We would have thought it more appropriate to involve us at the planning stage, developing the framework with our collaboration, rather than saying, okay we want ten lawyers from you. We want to be part of the process of planning. Then you take our input into account. We consider this project as a joint initiative.

” We see how you can engage with our North East Task Force, to have some sort of framework agreement in terms of signing a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, that would regulate and govern the engagement so that each side is clear in terms of its obligations and responsibilities.

“I want to say that the North East situation is One that is very high on our agenda. We can bring to the table quite a lot of resources. We Know that there are quite a lot you can contribute given your track record in the defence of human rights.

“So, jointly we can come up with concepts and frameworks and make our inputs into this joint arrangement. We can mobilize some support from development partners and see how all of these efforts can harmonize into a synergy.”

In her own address to the meeting, Oti Ovramah noted that in the counter-insurgency campaign, millions of Nigerians have died, multitudes have been injured or displaced. “Coupled with these are the attendant human rights abuses .” she said. “In this respect, we have been inundated with complaints of human rights violations of North East Citizens. “The National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with Human Rights Agenda Network and the European Union, EU, embarked on a project “Promoting Human Rights Accountability in the North East,” in order to achieve the objective of mainstreaming human rights into Operation Lafia Dole activities, is rules of engagement and codes of conduct, designing and developing a code of conduct for the CJTF and mainstreaming human rights into its activities, designing a template for gathering intelligence and bringing accountability to bear for human rights violations committed during the counterinsurgency operations. ”

She then told the meeting that her commission had come to seek partnership with NBA at both National and state levels in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to prosecute cases of human rights violations resulting from activities of JTF and CJTF during the counter insurgency operations.

Speaking for the North East Task Force, Kunle Adegoke told the meeting that seven lawyers were killed in the counter insurgency operations, while three were injured and two detained and one was detained for a very long time.

The meeting was told that there were 20 detention centres in Maiduguri alone and gross human rights abuses were allegedly committed in the IDPs.

Earlier on, Murtala Abdul Rasheed Esq introduced members of NBA which included NBA’s General Secretary Isiaka Abiola Olagunju, Dr.Garba Tetenji, Ms. Ifuel Alufohai, Folake Godwin, Chinelo Agbala and Zainab Animashaun. On the side of the visitors , Tony Ojukwu introduced the team which included Ms Oti Ovrawah, The Acting Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Okwa Murphy, Alilu Adam, Juliet Ulano, the legal officer and Folake Godwin Peters. Others were Oti Edah, Chinelo Agbala, Kunle Adegoke and Afolabi Olawole, among the 21 members of the entourage.

By Omololu Kassim

NBA Media Managers

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