By Albert Akota
The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Dr. Solomon Dersso has commended the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC) for the “enormous work and leadership” which it has exhibited in the realisation of its mandate of protecting and promoting human rights, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chairperson made this remark in Banjul, the Gambia in response to the Statement by the NHRC on the State of Human Rights in Africa at the on-going 66th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The statement which was presented by Mr. Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of NHRC chronicled the work of the NHRC in integrating human rights into the national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Ojukwu noted that “the pandemic has disrupted social and economic foundations of the society upon which the enjoyment of fundamental rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights are based.”
He noted that in a six-week period from April to May 2020, the NHRC received 231 cases of human rights violations. These cases included: “extra-judicial killings, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, violation of right to freedom of movement, unlawful arrest and detention, unlawful seizure/confiscation of properties, extortion, sexual and gender based violence to discrimination in the distribution of COVID-19 related relief items.”
The NHRC issued three reports on human rights violations which were presented to the Government, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Law Enforcement agencies and civil society organisation.
Mr. Ojukwu informed the regional human rights body that the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an upsurge in cases of rape and other sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.