9th June, 2016
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is collaborating with the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group to establish a databank of missing persons in the country.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, made this known at a roundtable organised by the commission in Abuja on Thursday.
“We are meeting here to put up strategies that will ensure that we have a database that will record persons who for reasons of insurgency or other reasons are now missing or have disappeared.
“Officially, today in this country, about 1.8 million Nigerians are displaced but officially again, we do not have the exact record of those who are affected by the insurgency.
“Some people are displaced and yet are not part of the 1.8 million people that are officially said to be displaced today.
“Even as we speak, there are still several Nigerians that are unaccounted for.
“Nigerians were surprised when the military discovered thousands that were being kept in the custody of the insurgents.
“Before then, we only knew of the over 200 girls who were abducted.
“As a country it is very important that we must demonstrate the value we place on the lives of the citizens.
“A starting point will be having an appropriate record of every Nigerian,’’ Angwe said.
He expressed concerns that there was also no accurate records of birth or deaths in the country.
Angwe said it was also true that in the country today, “we do not have a precise record of deaths or births and it is very difficult to give an account of such people’’.
According to him, the country is long overdue for a centralised and effective databank that will profile all Nigerians and have information on all Nigerians.
The executive secretary said that if this was done, it would be easy to note and identify when a Nigerian missed or had been affected by any form of calamity.
He said the commission would come up with a statement on how soon the database would be ready after the technical session.
He, however, enjoined every Nigeria to report immediately, any case of a missing person as a result of activities of the insurgents to any of the commission ‘s offices nationwide.
In a goodwill message, Mr Femi Okeosanyintolu, an Adviser on Monitoring and Evaluation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the office of the Vice President, described the event as a scientific landmark.
Okeosanyintolu said this was so because the commission was adopting an empirical approach to the problem of a database for missing people in the country.
On her part, Bukky Shonibare, a member of the strategic team of the BBOG group, noted that all lives were important and therefore the life of every Nigerian must be accounted for.
Shonibare added that in developing the missing persons register, it was important to take into account Nigerians who were living outside Nigeria as well as foreigners living in Nigeria.
Participants at the roundtable were drawn from the National Identity Management Commission and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The other were the National Refugee Commission, the National Bureau of Statistics, the National Emergency Management Authority, the Red Cross, among others.