The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has joined the United Nations and the global community in commemorating the World Human Rights Day, with the theme: Stand up for Human Rights.
The 2017 Human Rights Day marks the beginning of the one year long activities ahead of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Nigeria is a signatory to the Declaration. CDHR enjoins Nigerians and all persons of conscience to speak out in defence of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom anywhere, at all times.
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December to honour the UN General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10 December 1948. The Declaration has remained the beacon of modern Human Rights assessment across the world and a critical global document that guarantees freedom, equality and Rights of all persons, without discrimination. The UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights constitute the International Bill of Rights.
In a statement by Comrade (Barr) Henry Peter Ekine National Publicity Secretary of the body, the CDHR decried the unfortunate incidents of violation of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms, abuse of the rule of law, suppression of democratic principles, poor governance resulting in economic hardship and servitude, insecurity and inhumane treatment of Nigerians both here at home and in the Diaspora. The group recounted the high rate of unemployment, poor environment for investment, poor state of infrastructure, especially energy or power, poor healthcare, lack of housing, poor transport system, general dearth of citizens’ welfare, and others, as conditions of subjugation and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens. These realities reflect excruciating deprivation, hardship and abuse of human dignity.
CDHR charged Nigerians, to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and all the Governors of the States of the federation to urgently adopt and focus on the improvement of the welfare of citizens as ultimate priority; promote good-governance, eradicate all forms of servitude, stop the violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, especially economic and social rights, not undermining civil, political, as well as cultural rights. President Buhari must demonstrate real commitment, concern and value for the lives of Nigerians anywhere in the world, failure of which the collective capacity of citizens to enforce their inalienable rights will be activated.
Nigerians are not slaves and must not be frustrated to opt to be trafficked to other countries, even with less opportunity for survival. It was an embarrassment that 26 Nigerian ladies got drowned in a vessel and were reported to have been hurriedly buried in Italy. It is worrisome that Nigerian migrants in Libya, a country ravaged by years of civil war, and without a generally acceptable leadership, were tortured, traded as commodity and exchanged for Dollars in violation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Punishment as well as the UN Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery.The Nigerian Police, particularly the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Nigerian Military and other security agencies must respect the rights of citizens and be cautious in their handling of matters before them. It is the obligation of the state to protect Human Rights or refrain from the violation of the rights of citizens. CDHR condemned the indifferent posture and nonchalance by the Government, in the protection of the rights of Nigerians, which shows apparent lack of value for the lives of Nigerians.
According to CDHR, the civil and political rights of citizens (the first generation rights) cannot be meaningful without the social, economic and cultural rights (the second generation rights). The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, provides for the civil and political rights under Chapter IV as the Fundamental Human Rights. These rights are connected to the social, economic and cultural rights provided in the Constitution under Chapter II as the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. The concept of right to life under section 33 of Chapter IV, for instance, connects with section 14 (2) (b) under Chapter II, which declares that the provision of effective and efficient security and welfare of the citizens is the primary purpose of government; it connects with section 16, which ensures a strong and prosperous economy, employment and other means of economic survival; it links with section 17, which promotes adequate safety, medical and health facilities as well as quality, affordable and accessible health care for all persons, adequate and affordable housing, protection and safeguard of the environment: water, air, land and forest.
CDHR laments that diversion of public funds, corruption and abuse of office by public office holders and poor political leadership have not played any fair role in the lives of Nigerians. Huge sums reported to have been diverted (some of which are still being repatriated from foreign countries) would have advanced the improvement of the welfare of citizens and saved lives. The Group condemned the disposition of the few privileged Nigerians to live in affluence at the expense of the tens of millions of other Nigerians. A disturbing social imbalance accentuated through neo-liberal policies of privatisation and free market economy by which successive Nigerian Governments have sold public enterprises to selected rich individuals and thereby concentrated the commanding height of the Nigerian economy and wealth in the hands of a few powerful and privileged Nigerians contrary to section 16 (2) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
CDHR therefore called for immediate consideration of a comprehensive inclusion of all Nigerians in a national programme that will provide equal opportunity for all citizens to be entitled to quality education, adequate housing, equal security and affordable healthcare.
The foremost human rights group, under the leadership of its President, Comrade (Barr) Malachy Ugwummadu, therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the State Governors across the federation, to immediately direct public policies and actions towards accelerating the attainment of the economic and social objectives of the collective will of Nigerians, including the improvement of the general welfare of all Nigerians as well as the protection of the health, safety and security of all citizens. The value of the wellbeing and life of any single Nigerian anywhere in the world must not be undermined. In line with the theme for the International Human Rights Day, 2017, Stand up for Human Rights, CDHR therefore calls on all Nigerians to #StandUp4HumanRights and demand for an improved welfare and better governance.