Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva, Switzerland, has raised questions over the Zaria killing which it said claimed the lives of 350 persons and the killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra otherwise known as IPOB.
The development followed the Human Rights Committee review of the situation of civil and political rights in Nigeria.
The Nigerian delegation consisted of representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, the Department of State Services, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The Committee also noted with concern, rampant corrupt activities in the country.
The Office of the High Commissioner, United Nations Human Rights, in a statement published on its website, said: “The Human Rights Committee concluded today its review of the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Nigeria.”
The United Nations said the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ambassador Audu Ayinla Kadiri, in his opening remarks, said the composition of the Nigerian delegation was a testimony to its commitment to the implementation of the covenant.
Kadiri apologised for Nigeria’s inability to submit its second periodic report, adding that Nigeria had implemented many initiatives to improve the effectiveness, accessibility, accountability, transparency and fairness of the justice system such as the development of justice sector reform action plans and the establishment of judicial research and training centres.
“The Nigerian government was firmly committed to promote and protect the human rights of Nigerians. While much had been done in this regard, across a broad range of fields, the government acknowledged that challenges remained,” Kadiri reportedly said during the meeting.
But the Office of the High Commissioner, United Nations Human Rights, said the committee experts thanked the delegation for its presence and stressed that the purpose was to find common ground so that the committee might formulate recommendations aimed at helping the government to move forward.
“They pointed out that corruption remained rampant and that implementation of the legislation was weak. They also asked the delegation to comment on recent events, notably the killing of people in Biafra region and the killing of 350 people in Zaria, in Kaduna province.
“Experts asked if there was a law that prohibited discrimination that would cover direct and intersected forms of discrimination. Was the government considering repealing article 214 of the criminal code which criminalised sexual acts between persons of the same sex? What measures were in place to address the discriminatory effects of legislation on polygamy and repudiation?” the United Nations Human Rights Office said.
Kadiri further said in his concluding remarks between the committee and the Nigerian delegation that the dialogue had been interesting and illuminating and that the delegation had done its best to answer the experts’ questions.
“All is well that ends well,” Kadiri stated, adding that the delegation and the committee shared a common purpose.
“The delegation looked forward to cooperating further with the committee,” Kadiri added.
Ahmed Amin Fathalla, Committee Chair, in his concluding remarks, thanked the delegation.
“He recalled that parties to international legal instruments had to abide by their obligations. It had been a fruitful debate,” Fathalla said.