Nigeria: Human Rights - We Have Never Been Defensive On Amnesty's Report - Govt

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Amnesty International had accused soldiers and members of the civilian joint task force of abusing people, especially women, in internally displaced persons camps in the north-east.

The federal government has said it has never been on the defensive in its response to Amnesty International's (AI) report on human rights in the country.

Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this yesterday in Abuja when the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) delegation led by its executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu paid him a courtesy visit.

AI's country reports and other reports on Nigeria always put the international non-governmental organisation at loggerheads with the Nigerian military.

The most recent report titled 'They Betrayed Us: Women who Survived Boko Haram Raped, Starved and Detained in Nigeria,' was a case of the constant conflict between AI and the military.

The Defence Headquarters had while responding to the report through the Director, Defence Information, Brig-Gen John Agim, said AI was planning to destabilise and destroy the country through the report.

Onyeama said the federal government's position on AI's report was that "the government was not on the defensive about it because the government wanted to achieve the same objectives for Nigerians".

"Nigeria is not on the defensive about it at all. We are not trying to say we are perfect because no country is.

"However, the important thing is that we believe in human rights protection and promotion and we are doing everything possible to make sure that Nigerian citizens have the best."

The minister said that the government would rather be ready to take any criticism and work on it than to be on the defensive.

He said that the human right of Nigerians was a priority to the government.

According to him, it is not non-governmental organisations and other international organisations that cared more about Nigerians and the rights of Nigerians than the government.

"Our position with the Amnesty International report is that we are not on the defensive about it, because we want to achieve the same objectives for Nigerians.

"We believe that Nigerians should enjoy the highest level of enjoyment of their human rights.

"So, the government is not against that. When we get this kind of report, we do a kind of due diligence.

"We get all the security apparatuses together and interrogate ourselves to see where there are lapses and what we have to do to address those lapses," he said.

Onyeama said that the military was doing enough in enthroning human rights promotion architecture in the country.

He said that Nigeria was in the forefront in resisting the war against the International Criminal Court (ICC) by some African countries.

He noted that some African countries had called for massive withdrawal of ICC membership by Africans countries over the allegation that the court was mainly targeted at African leaders.

He said that the stand of Nigeria against such move was a good example of the country in support of human rights protection promotion.

Onyeama said the NHRC was very important in the world of today and also of great importance to the current administration, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Foreign Ministry.

He added that a lot of Nigeria's relationship with countries has human rights component that is very often determinant of how the nation proceed with the relationship

Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary said they were in the ministry to forge a collaboration in carrying out the mandate of the NHRC.

He said that the Commission received from time to time, reports about migration issues and complaints having some international coloration which it need to intimate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"In the past, the way we used to deal with these is to have a kind of focal point in the ministry so that if such complaints come, it can easily be forwarded to such officer to get your quick attention," he said.

He also requested the support of the ministry in facilitating travel documents of the officials of the commission whenever they needed to attend international conferences

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