Professor Chidi Odinkalu
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke (SAN) Monday inaugurated the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) under the chairmanship of Professor Chidi Odinkalu.
Adoke urged the board members to restrain from the temptation of seeking participation in the day to day running of the commission, as he said the council was responsible for just the general direction and policy thrust of the commission on part time basis.
He added that the role of the commission was critical to the Federal Government.
He enjoined the board to deliver its mandate in a smooth and unimpeded manner.
“We need a national human rights institution which can act as a watchdog and at the same time partner with government to advance the cause of human rights in the country, engage Nigerian people to sensitise on their rights and duties, collaborate with civil society organisations without getting sucked in by the peculiar agenda of some of them,” he said.
Responding on behalf of other board members, Odinkalu promised that the commission would justify the confidence reposed in them by the Federal Government.
He also said that the 17-year old commission was not in opposition to the government, adding that the AG had mapped out clear roadmap for the board, which requires integrity, passion, principle, skills, partnership and mutual respect.
“The commission is not an opposition party, we live in a world of realism,” he said.
He also said that the myriads of challenges faced by the commission would be tackled collectively.
“There are very considerable challenges, but we are going to learn together, and we will be better people, better institution in the service of our great country. We will continue to invest in the best assets we have, which is the staff of the commission, to make it possible for the commission to realise its mandate,” Odinkalu added.
Other members of the board include the commissions’ Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Kayode Komolafe, Mrs. Eugene Abu, Evangelist O. C. Ezeigwe, Mrs. Funmi Falana , Wale Fapohunda, and Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu.
Meanwhile, the NHRC has said more election observers per state should be made available during the conduct of future elections to ensure election credibility in the country.
The commission made the call at the strategic briefing organised in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the project on the 2012 Ondo State governorship election security project.
In the presentation by the Director, Legal Services, Tony Chukwu, the NHRC also recommended the involvement of the security agencies, including the military and the State Security Service, in the training of election security personnel.
“There should be an increase in the number of election security monitors per state for adequate coverage and better results, there is need for continued strengthening of the capacity of civil society organizations working with the Commission and security agencies,” he said.
The commission also recommended special protection of election observers/monitors; payment of entitlement of security officials; and provision of communication equipment.
Executive Secretary of the commission Prof. Bem Angwe, said, there was an improvement in election security across board.
“We are all eye witnesses to the improvement recorded across board on the conduct of security personnel and the security of the entire electoral process during the just concluded election.”