By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Nigerian Army, alongside other security outfits yesterday faulted few of the provisions of the proposed National Human Rights Commission Repeal and Re – enactment Bill 2020.
Conflicting opinions by interested parties on the amendment Bill manifested at the one day public hearing held by the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Expressing reservation on the provisions of the bill, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Atttahiru, represented by the Director of Legal Services, Brigadier General MU Wambai, said it was wrong for framers of the bill to have excluded the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police and DSS from the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission.
He said Section 2(2)(b) of the bill listed the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission and at paragraph (b) (i) – (iii) ex – officio members were listed with the exclusion of the Armed Forces , Nigeria Police Force , DSS and other Security agencies.
“Any mention of stakeholders on human rights in Nigeria would be incomplete without the Armed Forces and the Police because oftentimes , they receive the bout of litigations in courts over alleged human Rights violations”, he said.
Aside exclusion from the Commission’s Governing Council, representatives of the security agencies also kicked against section 5(j) of the Bill, which seeks to empower the commission to make appropriate determination on complaints brought before it as may deemed necessary in each circumstance.
He said “This raises jurisprudential question as to whether the Commission is seised of judicial powers since it could investigate and determine complaints.
“It would also amount to travesty of justice if the investigating body determines the complaints and make same enforceable as it is a principle of justice that no man shall be a judge in his own case.
“It is also against the letters and spirit of section 36(1) and ( 4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees right to fair hearing before an impartial tribunal or body”, he said.
Also kicking against some of the provisions of the bill, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, represented by Anthony Abah, said section 5, paragraph k, should be expunged for giving the Commission powers that clash with those of the Law Reform Commission.
The Attorney General also declared that it was wrong to seek power for issuance of warrant of arrest for the Commission which, according to him, is constitutionally entrusted to courts of competent jurisdiction.