Elections: NHRC harps on critical role of security agencies


Mr Tony Ojukwu, SAN, Executive Secretary of NHRC,

By Jethro Ibileke

The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NRHC), Chief Tony Ojukwu, has said that the level of readiness and commitment of security agencies’ personnel nationwide will determine the peaceful outcome of the 2023 general elections.

He stated this on Tuesday in Benin, Edo State, at a consultative forum organised for security agencies in the state, as part of the Commission’s engagement aimed at integrating human rights into the 2023 electoral process.

The consultation, organised with the support of Ford Foundation and the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), had as its theme: “National Consultation on the role of law enforcement and security agencies in protecting voter accreditation and participation during elections.”

According to Ojukwu, the Commission took these proactive steps because it had watched with dismay “recent attacks on law enforcement and INEC’s facilities in some parts of the country.”

Condemning these attacks, he said the Commission saw the need to convey the meeting with security agencies to discourse all possible strategies to nip in the bud actions likely to truncate the successful conduct of the general elections.

He described the actions as unpatriotic attacks on democracy and by extension and human rights protection architecture of Nigeria.

Ojukwu, however, noted that recent elections in Osun, Ekiti and Anambra had shown that a well informed and well-trained law enforcement machinery could play in producing peaceful and people-oriented centred electoral outcomes in accordance with electoral and human rights principles.

He said: The 2023 election is a significant milestone in our journey towards consolidating our democracy.

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“Since 1999, when Nigeria began its current democratic voyage, the NHRC has been playing a fundamental role in advancing Nigeria’s democracy through development of programmes aimed at integrating human rights into the electoral process and supporting democratic istitutuons and election management bodies to deliver on their mandates.

“The commission role in this regard is founded on the recognition of the importance of the consolidation democracy in the realisation of all human rights in Nigeria.

“To put it succinctly, the fulfilment and enjoyment of human rights are critical cannons of a properly functioning democratic system as a thriving democracy provides an enabling environment for human rights to thrive,” he said.

The Chief Human Rights Officer added that the 2023 general elections were coming at time when Nigeria continued to face huge human rights challenges, ranging from insecurity, weak law enforcement, poverty and inequalities.

“The Commission is hopeful that the 2023 elections will be coming of age for Nigeria as it emerges as a mode for free, fair and credible elections in Africa and enthrone a government.

“The stakeholders invited for this forum include representatives of the Nigerian Police, NSCDC, FRSC and DSS.

“This is a reflection of our vision of law enforcement and national security architecture that understands the place of human rights in our democracy which respects and upholds the normative and express principles of our law.

“We are using this platform to advocate for accountability measures to be put in place to check excesses of the few elements who will go outside the protocols and principles guiding the operations of these agencies,” he said.

Earlier, goodwill messages were presented by the Nigeria Bar Association, Benin branch, Ford Foundation and heads of participating security agencies

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