JOINT COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF MEETING BETWEEN THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (NHRC) AND NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM – THURSDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, 2015
Representatives of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) met with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday, 26th February 2015 in Abuja, concerning arrangements for the protection of the human right to franchise and participation in the 2015 elections (#Franchise2015).
It will be recalled that recently, the NHRC issued a Pre-Election Report and Advisory on Violence in Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections, as a concrete measure to forestall election related violence in Nigeria, protect human rights and bring accountability to bear for violations of human rights during the 2015 general elections. The Situation Room and the NHRC examined the recommendations in the Report and Advisory.
Both sides agreed and jointly reaffirm commitment to:
a. Credible elections on the dates designated by the INEC;
b. Protection of the independence, impartiality and credibility of the INEC as the body constitutionally entrusted with responsibility for organizing elections in Nigeria;
c. Prevention and mitigation of violence, including the need to ensure the existence of a credible capability to address election-related violence and hate speech; and
d. Protection of the integrity and independence of key institutions of government like the police, military, the judiciary etc that are fundamental to democratic development, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Nigeria.
The CSO Situation Room and the NHRC expressed shared concern about the tone and what appears to be the willingness of the leading political parties to turn the role of the security agencies in the 2015 general elections into a partisan issue and agreed to work together to protect the professionalism and neutrality of all security units or institutions to be deployed for the elections.
Accordingly, the CSO Situation Room and the NHRC have agreed to establish a joint Technical Working Group to work together in developing clear Rules of Engagement together with Protocols for monitoring compliance by security agencies (including the police, military, internal security or para-military units) that may be deployed for election duties in 2015 General elections. The Working Group shall report not later than the 10 March 2015.
The Situation Room and the NHRC called for politicians from across the political divide to close ranks in protecting and defending the credibility of the electoral system. Accordingly, they agreed that:
a. The allegations concerning the role of certain senior political and military personnel in the Ekiti Governorship Elections are serious; and
b. It is in the interest of the credibility of Nigeria’s election system and of all persons and institutions associated with these allegations that there should be a credible, independent and impartial investigation of these allegations without further delay.
The Situation Room and the NHRC underscored the recognition of the principle that the primary responsibility of government is the protection of all persons within the territory of Nigeria.
Complementarily, they also stressed the need to preserve the independence, neutrality and impartiality of all security and law enforcement units deployed on election duty, including the responsibility to be impartial and respect the human rights of all voters, election administrators and agent.
• Chidi Anslem Odinkalu Ph.D. (LSE)
• Mr Clement Nwankwo
Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
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