The Benue state government has donated an ultra modern office complex worth millions of naira to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to enhance the operation of the commission in the state.
The state governor, Gabriel Suswam said the donation was to enable the commission to carry out its statutory function of protecting the rights of the common man. Although, no details on the actual amount spent on the project was disclosed.
The office is located at Government Reserve Area in Makurdi, the state capital, and to underscore the importance of the project, top government functionaries, civil society organisations, state and federal lawmakers, eminent lawyers and people of the state graced the commissioning in large numbers.
The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Iorhemen Hwande; speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. David Iorhemba; former Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav; Mr. Tony Ijohor (SAN), the Tor Tiv, Alfred Akawe Tokula and the Ochi Idoma, Elias Ikoyi Obekpa were also present at the ceremony.
Commissioning the project, Governor Suswam said that there were rampant cases of human rights violations in the state and country which he said had prompted the high levels of insecurity in Nigeria.
He said the donation was to enable the institution to adequately protect the rights of the people and handle the myriad of complaints emanating from all the nooks and crannies of the state.
Governor Suswam stated that the presence of the commission in Benue was a unique opportunity for members of the public to have access to equity and fairness, adding that it would enhance proper disposition of justice for the benefit of the citizenry.
He noted the high incidences of marginalisation and infringement of rights by some highly-placed individuals against the less-privileged members of the society, adding that the new office will help improve interventions on human rights issues at the grassroots.
In his remarks, the executive Secretary of the NHRC Prof. Bem Angwe said that the NHRC, which was established in 1995, is charged with the responsibility of promoting and enforcing the rights of all Nigerians.
He said that the commission is committed to investigating the violation of human rights and that where the offenders are found guilty, they would be arrested accordingly, prosecuted and charged topay the necessary damages that may be required.
“We realised that for us to achieve the mandate of the commission and reposition it appropriately to play a leading role in the realisation of the MDGs and vision 20:20:20, there is need to set up state offices and expand the scope of our activities.
“We believe that one effective way of enhancing public access and increased awareness on the activities of the commission is to establish additional offices at the grassroots.”
The Executive Secretary stated that the objectives of the new offices would be to increase access by complainants to the complaint treatment mechanism and other services, and to build the partnership and capacity of human rights stakeholders including community-based organisations.
“A decade and a half after its establishment, the commission’s complaints treatment mechanism was accessible to only a small fraction of the population. The majority of Nigerians are not aware of the existence of the commission and the service it offers.
This is a huge challenge given the size of our country and the need to reach all the nooks and crannies to educate Nigerians on their rights.”
Justice Iorhemen Hwande and Barrister David Iorhemba both commended the development, saying that it marked the end of human rights injustices. They praised Governor Suswam’s efforts at ensuring the progress of the state and called on members of the public to reciprocate the governor’s gesture.