By Edith Nwapi
Abuja – Mr Tony, Ojukwu, Executive Secretary (ES), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the activation of the Human Rights Fund as contained in the NHRC Act, 1995, as amended 2010.
Ojukwu, who made this call in Abuja in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the fund, aside from programme support for the Commission, can help deliver progress in a number of areas.
He said it will especially strengthen coordination between the Commission and Human Rights NGOs working across diverse areas, but with emphasis on protecting the rights of minorities and vulnerable persons, particularly women and girls; supporting the enactment and implementation of public interest legislation.
He said that the support funds will assist the commission to create a more tolerable space for public debate on ethnicity and religion, investigate and monitor alleged numerous human rights situations in the country which needed immediate response.
“We are calling on government to look at how the funds can be re-activated.
“It can improve our response time, monitor human rights in the country and assist victims of human rights violations.
The greatest instrument to protect rights, he said, is for the people themselves to know their rights so that, when their rights are violated they can then complain and get assisted.
“These are the aspects of our work that need to be understood by the government and those who allocate resources to us, so that we can have adequate resources“ he said.
He said that the commission has developed a four-year plan document to chart a new and defined course for the conduct of the affairs of the commission in line with identified strategic priorities.
“The current administration on assumption of leadership, assessed the situation on ground with respect to the operations and effectiveness of the commission and saw the need to inject fresh ideas and strategies that will reposition the commission to realise its expanded mandate enshrined in the NHRC Act 2010.
“The act has given the commission enormous powers, and we cannot exercise the powers without knowing how to do so.
”So a key priority for us is to build the capacity of staff of the commission to be able to deliver on the mandate specified in the act.”
The executive secretary noted that the commission was not oblivious to challenges that it might face, particularly that of funding.
“We have tried to factor in these challenges as we carefully address risk mitigation in the document.
The commission also relies on the support and collaboration of its partners in the implementation process.”(NAN)