Aidoghie Paulinus and Olivia Kalu, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said its response to Amnesty International’s (AI) report on human rights in the country, had never been defensive.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this in Abuja when he received a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) led by its Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu.
Onyeama also said it is not non governmental organizations and other international organizations that cared more about Nigerians and the rights of Nigerians than the government.
Onyeama added that the Federal Government’s position on Amnesty International’s report is that the government is not defensive about it because the government want to achieve the same objectives for Nigerians.
Onyeama further said the government believed that Nigerians should enjoy the highest level of enjoyment of their human rights.
Recall that AI’s country reports and other reports on Nigeria always put the international non governmental organization at loggerheads with the Nigerian military.
The most recent report titled ‘They Betrayed Us: Women who Survived Boko Haram Raped, Starved and Detained in Nigeria,’ was a case of the constant conflict between AI and the military.
The Defence Headquarters had while responding to the report through the Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, said AI was planning to destabilise and destroy the country through the report.
But according to Onyeama, “Our position with the Amnesty International report is that we are not defensive about it because we want to achieve the same objectives for Nigerians. We believe that Nigerians should enjoy the highest level of enjoyment of their human rights.
“So, the government is not against that. When we get this kind of report, we do a kind of due diligence. We get all the security apparatuses together and interrogate ourselves to see where there are lapses and what we have to do to address those lapses.”
Speaking further, Onyeama said that the military is doing enough in enthroning human rights promotion architecture in the country.
Onyeama added: “And we are not defensive about it at all. We are not trying to say we are perfect because no country is, but the important thing is that we believe in human rights protection and promotion and we are doing everything possible to make sure that Nigerian citizens have the best.”
In his earlier remarks, Onyeama said the NHRC is very important in the world of today and also of great importance to the current administration, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Foreign Ministry.
He added that a lot of Nigeria’s relationship with countries has human rights component that is very often determinant of how the nation proceed with the relationship.
Onyeama said: “A very good example of course is, in our fight against Boko Haram for a number of years; the US government will not sell weaponry to us because of perceived human rights issues. So, that is example of a very concrete impact that the issue of human rights has on us.”
Onyeama also said the point he always made to foreign instances that questioned Nigeria on human rights issues is that for President Buhari and the present government, the human rights of Nigerians is a real priority.
Speaking earlier, Ojukwu said they were in the ministry to forge collaboration in carrying out the mandate of the NHRC.
He said by the nature of the mandate of the NHRC which is the promotion and protection of human rights of Nigerians and other nationals resident in Nigeria, they receive from time to time, reports about migration issues and complaints having some international coloration which they need to intimate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ojukwu said: “In the past, the way we used to deal with these is to have a kind of focal point in the ministry so that if such complaints come, it can easily be forwarded to such officer to get your quick attention.”