The Continued Abuse and Violations of Human Rights in Nigeria
The National Human Rights Commission, the country’s agency responsible for the protection and enforcement of human rights in Nigeria, through its Executives Secretary, Anthony Ojukwu, recently reported that the Commission recorded about one million cases of the violations of human rights between the year 2017 and 2018. The agency stated categorically that over 100,000 human rights violations cases occurred in Borno State, due to the rampaging attacks by the murderous Boko Haram insurgents.
It is, however, disheartening that the alarming rate of human rights violations has remained unchecked by necessary agencies of the government. In the North-Eastern part of the country, there are cases of abuse of human rights. Women and young girls have been inflicted with sexual abuse – soldiers deployed to the war zones have constantly turned them to sexual objects to satisfy their libido as they keep raping them. The Internally-Displaced Persons Camp (IDPs) camps, across the nooks and crannies of the country, have been turned to an avenue to molest women and young girls sexually also. There are also cases of torture, child molestation, and other sorts of violence, which degrades human dignity.
In December 2015, the World was aghast with the killings of 348 Shia Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna state. Unfortunately, up till now, the ill-advised crackdown of the members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) by Nigerian Army has been justified by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai. It is strikingly baffling that the leadership of the Nigerian Army has forgotten that the constitution of Nigeria, which is supreme, allows religious procession. Therefore, the murder of Nigerians by Army is unjustifiable and condemnable. The December killing is now known as, “2015 Zaria Massacre”.
In another recent unfortunate event, in October, there was a confrontation between the Nigerian Army and the unarmed Shiite protesters, who were showing displeasure over the continued illegal detention of their leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky. The Army, also, launched attacks against the protesters, which resulted in the death of some of the IMN members. The leadership of the Nigerian Army, after facing global outrage, claimed that they descended on the Shiite members because they used stones and petrol bombs to attack soldiers. Meanwhile, the video released by America-based newspaper, The New York Times, has proven otherwise.
Also, we cannot forget the numerous cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force. The group degraded human dignity through their operations by humiliating the youths of the country, arresting and detaining Nigerians unlawfully, and extorting the citizens. They carried out their operations, in the same fashion Benito Mussolini’s fascist boys carried out their operations at the height of World War II. During their heydays before Acting President Yemi Osinbajo gave an order to overhaul them, the SARS operatives whisk any youth with a car into their patrol vehicle. Growing beard, possessing the South Korea-made Samsung or the American-made iPhone, carrying laptops, visiting relaxation centers were regarded as crimes. They deprived Nigerians of freedom of expression, freedom of movements, and even ownership of property. Because of their pecuniary interests, they exploited hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
In addressing the human rights abuse in the country, the continued incarceration of Co-Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Prince Deji Adeyanju, must also be discussed. How can a man be arrested for protesting that the Nigerian Police Force should embrace neutrality, and professionalism as the 2019 elections are approaching? Deji Adeyanju’s arrest is one of the examples of human rights violations in the country. It is conspicuously written in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that there is freedom to protest. Therefore, Deji’s arrest is illegal and unlawful.
With the increasing rate of violations of human rights in the country, Nigeria is gradually turning to a banana republic. The Federal Government must do the needful to address this important issue – they must start exhibiting respect for the sanctity of life. The Military must be warned against violating human rights. Furthermore, the National Human Rights Commission must also continue to fight against the abuse of human rights.