NHRC urges federal government to recognise competence of African Court

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By Brendan Umoren

The National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC) has urged the Federal Government to make the necessary declaration, recognising the competence of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.

Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu made the call on Thursday in Abuja when a delegation from the court led by its President, Justice Sylvain Ore visited the commission.

The delegation visited the commission as part of efforts to enlighten and sensitise stakeholders in Nigeria about the mandate of the court based in Arusha, Tanzania.

Their visit is to also encourage the government to deposit the declaration recognising the competence of the court and to explore areas of cooperation with the commission and Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs).

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The executive secretary said that even though the commission had been in the forefront of the campaign for the deposit of the declaration, it would intensify efforts to ensure that Nigeria made the declaration.

“The commission stands to benefit if the declaration is made by Nigeria because it is tantamount to the expansion mandate as it means more people will be able to access the court.

“The commission has written and visited relevant government officials emphasising the need to expand the protection space by Nigeria making the declaration.

“We will continue to engage the attorney-general and let the country know the immense benefits we stand to gain by depositing the declaration. You can see the case of Tanzania where a lot of people are able to access the court.

“For any democratic society like Nigeria, it is for the betterment of the government and the citizens that everyone’s right is protected and more avenues are created to protect the rights of citizens.”

Justice Ore, in a short remark, said that as the big brother of Africa, it was instructive for Nigeria to make the declaration so that other African countries yet to do so, would take a cue.

Also speaking, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, said it was embarrassing that Nigeria was not among the nine state that have made a declaration recognising the competence of the court.

He assured the delegation that his support to ensure that Nigeria recommits to the declaration.

The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights is a continental court established by member states of the African Union to enhance the protection of human and peoples rights in Africa.

It was established to complement and reinforce the protective mandate of the African Commission on human and peoples rights often referred to as the Banjul Commission.

Since the adoption of the protocol in 1998, only 30 of the 55 member states of the AU have ratified it.

Meanwhile, only nine of the 30 states partied to the protocol have made the declaration recognizing the competence of the court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.

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