The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu has extolled the efforts and sacrifices of the Nigerian Armed Forces as well as the commitments of the Governments and citizens of the North-Eastern States towards Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency.
Ojukwu gave this commendation at a Traditional and Religious Leaders Forum on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in North East Nigeria, the event which took place in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Ojukwu said the Armed Forces have made a lot of sacrifices to secure the civilian population despite the difficult terrain in which they operate in the fights against insurgency.
On the issue of Transitional justice which is the crux of the Forum, the human rights boss urged the traditional and religious leaders to assist the Commission to facilitate the effective implementation of the project.
The NHRC in collaboration with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union had in 2021 launched a Project on Promoting Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and Reintegration in Adamawa Yobe and Borno States.
The project was launched on the premise of bringing lasting peace to the communities affected by insurgency through truth-telling, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
The NHRC helmsman stressed that the role of traditional and religious leaders in any peace-building process cannot be over-emphasized. He recalled that “in many of our communities across Nigeria, traditional and religious leaders are the centerpiece of our civilization, facilitating and shaping education and socialization from cradle to grave” He noted that traditional and religious institutions in North-Eastern Nigeria, have advanced social and economic development dating back to many centuries.
He used the medium to thank the governments of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states for their partnership in the implementation of the Transitional Justice Project, and for the leadership and resilience, they have all shown in tackling 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.
The Shehu of Borno His Royal Highness Alhaji (Dr.) Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi assured the Commission and other partners that he is in total support of the project aimed at peace-building and reconciliation, and achieving the goals of the Transitional Justice Project in the North East.
Represented by his Secretary, Alhaji Zanna Umar Ali, the Shehu specifically thanked the NHRC Boss, the project partners, and the sponsors, UNDP and EU for supporting the peace and reconciliation process in the North East.
In his keynote speech, Professor Umara Ibrahim Gudumbali of the Department of Political Science University of Maiduguri, 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 University Don gave a historical background of how the Borno Empire used the traditional African/religious culture to resolve conflicts that took place in some communities both within and outside Nigeria in the past centuries. The mechanism used in those days according to the Prof. is a similitude of what we have today as transitional justice.
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, the transitional justice system is not new to Northern Nigeria because it has been there before the coming of the colonialists, saying that the modern application can only brush over what we had before.
While encouraging stakeholders to make the best use of the days ahead to achieve the goals of the Transitional Justice Project, the UNDP representative at the event Mr. David Mina, pledged the continuous support of the UN body in the implementation of the joint project.