By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chief Tony Ojukwu SAN, has restated the Commission’s commitment to the successful implementation of the Transitional Justice Project in the North East.
He emphasized that promoting Reconciliation, Reintegration and Transitional Justice will contribute tremendously to restoring lasting peace in the North East.
The Executive Secretary who lamented over the situation in Maiduguri, Borno state at the inaugural Traditional and Religious Leaders Forum on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in North East Nigeria urged leaders in the area to assist the Commission to facilitate the effective implementation of the pilot project which commenced in 2021.
The Chief Custodian of Human Rights in Nigeria cited a recent UNDP report which estimated that there have been about 350,000 direct and indirect deaths linked to the insurgency with over 2 million displaced people in Nigeria and neighboring countries.
Speaking further at the event organized by the NHRC in partnership with the state governments of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe and sponsored by UNDP and EU, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated that the project is committed to Reconciliation, Reintegration, and Transitional Justice in the three aforesaid states.
In the same vein, the NHRC Boss acknowledged the partnership and co-convening roles of the Ministry of Local Government and Emirates Affairs and the Office of His Royal Highness, the Shehu of Borno which have made this event possible.
Ojukwu used the opportunity to welcome the keynote speaker, Professor Umara Ibrahim Gudumbali, of the Department of Political Science, University of Maiduguri. According to him, “Prof. Gudumbali is a distinguished scholar in the field which has brought us together today”.
He thanked the governments of the Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe for their partnership in the Transitional Justice Project, and for the leadership and resilience they have all shown in tacking the security and development challenges affecting the region.
“You have a partner in the National Human Rights Commission, and we pledge our mandate and resources to continuously work with you in addressing these challenges”, the Executive assured.
In his opening statement while declaring the workshop open, His Royal Highness Alhaji (Dr.) Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi CFR, the Shehu of Borno, who was represented by his Secretary, Zanna Umar Ali assured the Commission and other partners that he is in total support of the project aimed at building peace and reconciliation and achieving transitional justice in the North East.
In his keynote speech, Professor Umara Ibrahim Gudumbali gave a historical analysis of the Transitional Justice System, saying it is not strange to our culture. The erudite Professor narrated the timely interventions of the Borno Empire in settling disputes and conflicts extending to other states outside Borno Empire such as Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, Benue, Kogi, and even to other countries, including Egypt, Ethiopian, Cameron, etc. He charged the traditional rulers and religious leaders to borrow a leaf from the ancient mechanisms of settling disputes in attempting to address the current crises occasioned by insurgency in the North East.
The Reconciliation and Social Cohesion Officer with the UNDP who also represented the Head of North East Sub Office Mr. David Maina, said the importance of the project is to help the communities affected by insurgency transition themselves to a sustainable economy. He noted that this may not be achieved in one day considering the offences perpetrated, but the work done by the stakeholders in the next few days will ensure progress made towards achieving the goals.