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Falana writes Senate as Buhari snubs N’East in NHRC appointment

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has written a letter to Senate President Ahmad Lawan over the omission of the North-East in the appointment of the governing council of the National Human Rights Commission.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on March 24, 2021 sent a letter to the Senate seeking the confirmation of 16 nominees.

It was learnt that while the North-East was left out in the appointment of the NHRC, Kebbi State got three appointees out of the 16-member council.

A former Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Salamatu Suleiman, who is from Kebbi State (North-West) was named as chairman.

Amb Usman Salisu also from Kebbi State was named as an ex-officio member as well as Ahmad Fingilla who also hails from Kebbi.

Other nominees include Prof. Anthony Ojukwu (South-East) who was nominated as Executive-Secretary; Mrs. Idayat Hassan (South-West).

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Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba (South-South), Dafe Adesida (South-South), Joseph Onyemachi (South-East) and Abubakar Muhammed (North-West) were among others appointed.

Falana in his letter argued that the North-East, which had witnessed many cases of human rights abuse due to the war against terrorism ought to be represented.

The letter read in part, “We have confirmed that President Buhari has nominated 16 persons and requested the Senate to confirm them in accordance with the provisions of Section 2(2) of the National Human Rights Commission Amendment Act, 2010.

“Having studied the list we have found, to our utter dismay, that three out of the four nominees representing the North-West zone are from Kebbi State including the chairperson of the Governing Council, Mrs. Salamotu Suleiman.

“Sometime last year, the Senate had confirmed the appointment of the members of the board of the Legal Aid Council including the Director-General, Mr. Aliyu Bagudu Abubakar who also hails from Kebbi State.”

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The senior advocate noted that the South-East and South-South zones have four representatives each while the South-West and North-Central zones have two representatives each.

“Curiously, the North-East zone has no representative on the list. Yet, the rate of human rights abuses in the North-East region is higher than any other region in the country because of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations” Falana argued.

The activist maintained that the nominations are not in consonance with Section 14 (3) of the constitution which stipulates that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity.

He noted that the guiding principle for the distribution of posts made pursuant to Section 4 (1) (a) of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment etc) Act  Cap F7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 provide that each state should be represented in all national institutions.

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“Where the number of positions available cannot go round the states of the Federation or the Federal Capital Territory, the distribution shall be on zonal basis but in the case where two positions are available, the positions shall be shared between the northern and the southern zones,” Falana said.

He, therefore, called on the Senate to ensure that all appointments that require confirmation are in consonance with the provisions of the constitution and other relevant laws in the interest of the corporate existence of the country.

“We call on the Senate to advise the President to withdraw the nomination of the members of the National Human Rights Commission and ensure that the proposed appointments comply with the provisions of 14 (3) of the Constitution and section 4 of Federal Character Commission (Establishment etc) Act,” the letter read.

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