The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has again decried the devastating impacts of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, saying that it has brought untold physical, emotional and psychological losses on the victims and their families.
The commission reiterated that promoting Reconciliation, Reintegration and Transitional Justice would go a long way in restoring lasting peace in the North East.
A statement on Monday by the Spokes person of the commission, Fatima Agwai, said that the the Executive Secretary of the commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu (SAN) 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 project.
“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 neighbouring countries.
“Speaking further at the event event organised by the NHRC in partnereship with 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.
In addition, the Executive Secretary extolled the efforts and sacrifices of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the commitments of the Governments and citizens of the north-eastern states towards reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of affected communities,” the statement added.
It stressed the role of traditional and religious leaders in the peace building process, adding that in many communities across Nigeria, traditional and religious leaders remained the centrepiece of the people civilisation, facilitating and shaping education and socialisation from cradle to grave.
“In North-Eastern Nigeria, traditional and religious institutions whose roles in advancing social and economic development dating more than five centuries have been recognized”, the statement quoted Ojukwu saying.
He thanked the governments of the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe for their partnership in the project and for the leadership and resilience they have all shown in tackling security and development challenges.
“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 assured the commission and other partners that he remained in total support of the project aimed at building peace and reconciliation as well as achieving transitional justice in the North East.
The royal father who was represented at the event by his Secretary, Zanna Umar Ali specifically thanked the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, the project partners and the sponsors, UNDP and EU for supporting the peace and reconciliation process in the North East.
In his keynote speech, Prof. Gudumbali of the Department of Political Science, University of Maiduguri, gave a detailed historical and cultural analysis of the Transitional Justice System, saying that it was not new to Nigeria, particularly in the Borno Empire of Northern Nigeria.
The erudite Professor narrated the time honoured 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 recalled that the first regional task force in the continent was established by Borno empire and Egypt and it assisted in countering the activities of fighters along the transatlantic trade.
The University don therefore 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.
Besides, he advocated that the traditional rulers should be assigned a constitutional role to assist goverment in its peacemaking process.
In his goodwill message, the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice, Borno state, Mr. Abdullahi Hussaini Izge Esq lauded the non kinetic efforts of the federal government targeted at achieving peace and transitional justice in the North East.
According to Izge, transitional justice system is not new to Northern Nigeria because it has been there before the coming of the Colonialists, only that the modern application can only brush over what we had before.
Other goodwill messages came from representatives of Borno Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, Special Adviser and Coordinator on Sustainable Development, Partnership and Humanitarian Supports, Government of Borno state, Representatives of Goverment, Ministries and Agencies, Head of North East Sub-Office, UNDP, and Chairman of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Borno state.