Experts Converge to Develop Framework for Transitional Justice in North East

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

A group of senior legal academics, solicitor generals, permanent secretaries, and other personalities from related fields of study converged in Abuja to develop a suitable framework for a successful Transitional Justice Programme (TJP) in North-east Nigeria.

The strategic expert meeting for the development of Transitional Justice Framework (TJF) was one of the activities under a project titled “Promoting Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States”.

The project is being implemented by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in partnership with United Nation Development Programme  (UNDP) and supported by the European Union  (EU).

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said in his welcome address at the meeting that the commission is pleased to host the highest level of experts as far as justice machinery in the three project states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are concerned, noting that this is for the purpose of developing a suitable framework for the transitional justice, a project that has been introduced to some communities in the three states.

Ojukwu, who was represented at the event by his Senior Special Adviser, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna who also doubled as the project coordinator, stated that “it is highly imperative to design a framework that will best suit the communities ravaged by insurgency,” noting that “the framework should be in conformity with the values, beliefs, culture and tradition of the people. This will make it easy for the community to adapt.”

He also stressed that “the framework must be predicated on the principles of natural justice, fair hearing, victim justice, survivor justice, equality etc.”

In his remark, the Representative of the UNDP, Mr. Elia Von Rota, commended the efforts of the NHRC in bringing such calibre of intellectuals together to develop the framework, saying that he would be pleased to be an observer at the meeting.

In his good will message, the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of Adamawa State, Mr. Samuel Yaumande, said the initiative is the first of its kind in the North-east.

Yaumande pointed out the need to have in place an effective justice system that would reconcile and reintegrate members of communities who have experienced gross human rights violations as a result of the insurgency.

He advised that “in designing the framework, it is necessary to take into consideration the need of the victims to enable them pick up their pieces of lives and move forward.”

Similarly, his Yobe State Counterpart, Ms. Kadija Alkali, said the programme could not have come at a better time than now following the recent massive surrender of many insurgents.

She said: “There is need for everyone to embrace the transitional justice and reconciliation approach, because it gives hope for peace to reign among the members of the community.”

 She called on the experts to make concerted efforts towards having a perfect framework that will serve as a guideline to achieve lasting peace in the region.

The representative of the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of Borno State, who is also the Director of Civil Litigation, Mr. B. M. Bukar, said that “the justice system we adopted from the English people is alien to our culture; as such it is not suitable for us”.

Bukar described it as “unnecessarily long and boring to our people, it is not easy to enforce foreign culture on our people.”

According to him, “this method of transitional justice and reconciliation is the best thing that can happen to us in this region as far as making peace and reconciliation is concerned and we must all ensure that it works.”

At the event were academics from different universities as well as Civil Society Organisations and state coordinators of the NHRC.

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