Thursday, May 6, 2021

Human rights commission to checkmate violations at Nigeria’s detention centres


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Tony Ojukwu on Thursday said the Commission will commence the audit of detention centres across the country as from June 2018.

A statement by the Director, Corporate Affairs and External Linkages of the NHRC, Lambert Oparah said.

According to Mr Oparah, the exercise is in fulfilment of the Commission’s mandate to ensure that detention facilities across the country are kept in line with respect for human rights, under the 1999 Constitution, and in accordance with the United Nations Minimum Standards for detention centers.

Mr Ojukwu said detention centres to be audited during the exercise would include those under the control of the Prisons, Police, State Security Service (SSS) and the Military.

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The statement further stated that arrangements are being put in place for the audit of other detention centres in the control of other law enforcement agencies like the NDLEA, NSCDC, Customs, Environmental or Traffic Enforcement Agencies at both the State and Federal levels.

The NHRC boss also underscored that under section 6(1) (d) of the National Human Rights Commission Amendment Act 2010, the Commission is empowered to, “Visit prisons, police cells and other places of detention in order to ascertain the conditions thereof and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities.”

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He added that in order to improve access, promote harmonious and cordial relationship with other arms of government, the NHRC as a matter of courtesy, informs any sister agency of an impending audit visit within a time frame.

He said the essence of this, is to ease logistics for both the visiting NHRC staff and those Law enforcement officers responsible for keeping the detention centres.

This practice, according to Mr Oparah in the statement has been on since the passage of the NHRC Amendment Act of 2010 and emphasized that such information is not to seek permission of the Law enforcement agencies before commencing an audit of their detention centre.

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Mr Ojukwu said the exercise will help to avoid situations where the responsible officers at the detention facilities may not be available at their duty posts to supply required audit details upon arrival of the NHRC detention facility auditors.

He said, “For the purposes of clarification, information to the agencies on the timeframe for impending audit is not a request for permission or approval but purely information for logistics purposes to ensure a successful audit exercise.

“The absence of such information could result into hitches during the exercise especially if proper logistics is not put in place thereby compounding the tight financial arrangements for the exercise,” Mr Ojukwu said.

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