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Published On: Sun, Apr 13th, 2014

Apo killings: Is NHRC changing for better?

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By Bamidele Aturu

The indictment last week by the National Human Rights Commission of the Army and the State Security Service authorities for the indefensible killing of eight innocent and harmless citizens in an uncompleted building at Apo District of the Federal Capital Territory on September 20, 2013 is quite refreshing. But more pleasant is the reaction of the political authorities to the indictment.

The Commission has shown by its bold, reasoned and fair decision that what we need in Nigeria is a combination of independent institutions and patriotic as well as competent persons to run them. I have no doubt that the Commission would not have been able to even conduct the hearing or investigation let alone award compensation against the army or the Department of State Security Service but for the amendment to its enabling law. Also, without the persons of character who now dominate the council of the Commission, it would be unthinkable that the Commission which used to be a mere appendage of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation will ever dare to criticize let alone indict two super government agencies.

I salute the courage of all the members of the Governing Council of the Commission, its Executive Secretary and other staff for giving us something to cheer under this administration. Honestly, one is pleased that we can see a government agency speak truth to government. We can only hope that they will move their searchlight into other dark alleys of government human rights practice in Nigeria.

One is also cautiously enthused that Nigerian political authorities did not dismiss the decision as the handiwork of the opposition. If the silence from them is as a result of a sober realization that security agencies went overboard in the irresponsible way they falsely labelled the deceased as Boko Haram and wickedly cut off their lives, then we can only encourage them to continue in that path of honour. However, if they were just too dazed that a government agency had the liver to criticize and embarrass them and are then waiting for the right time to strike, then it would mean they do not know the immeasurable good that the decision of the Commission has done for the government. Serious governments need responsible Commissions to whip overzealous security agents into line from time to time.

Bamidele Aturu is on linkedIn

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