By Taiwo Okanlawon
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman as Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The red chamber also confirmed the appointments of fifteen other nominees as members of the Commission.
The nominees include: Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, Amb. Umar Zainab Salisu, Mrs. Dafe T. Adesida, Joseph Onyemaechi Mmamel, Ahmad Abubakar Fingilla, Kemi Asiwaju-Okenyodo, and Abubakar Muhammad.
Others are: Femi Okeowo, Sunny Daniel, Barr. Agabaidu Chukwuemeka Jideani, Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana, Azubuike Nwakwenta, Jamila Isah, Mrs. Idayat Omolara Hassan, and Mr. Anthony Ojukwu.
The confirmation of the nominees followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), said that the Committee was guided by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the extant law, which established the National Human Rights Commission.
He, however, observed that Section 14(3) of the Constitution requires that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies, should reflect the Federal Character Principles.
Citing Section 3(2) and 3 of the National Human Rights (Amendment) Act, he noted that the composition of the Council to consist of the Chairman and Members of the Commission should represent various segments of the human rights community.
According to the lawmaker, “it is noteworthy to state that the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission as presented to the 9th Senate, does not comply with the provisions of the Constitution as it relates to the Federal Character Principles.”
He added that, “human rights issues does not only affect a segment but cut across all parts of the country. As such, all geo-political zones must be represented in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, in light of emerging human rights abuses in the country.”
The lawmaker, therefore, urged, “that the Senate do draw the attention of Mr. President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation to the lop-sidedness in the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission, which is an infraction against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.”
Bamidele further noted, “that the Senate and indeed the National Assembly does not only make law but also ensures that the laws made are complied with, through the mechanisms of checks and balances.
“Therefore, it is our duty to draw the attention of the Executive who is saddled with the responsibilities of making nominations for appointments into any position in the country to ensure compliance with the Federal Character Principles in line with the Constitution.”
Contributing, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North) described the nominees as “qualified to hold the saddle of the position that each of them were nominated for.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the appointments of the nominees were confirmed, urged the executive arm of government to comply with the observations raised by the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Committee, by ensuring it adheres to the Federal Character Principles as provided in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in making appointments.
“The Committee has raised some observations, and I want to reiterate here that the executive should take very serious note of the observations raised in the area of ensuring that there is compliance with the constitutional provisions for appointments like this”, the Senate President said.