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Respecting human rights isn’t hindrance to your duties – Expert




A one-day workshop on security and human rights has identified why Nigerian security agents still feel that respecting the fundamental human rights of citizens hinders the performance of their responsibilities.

Most of the security agents who participated in the workshop held in Gombe, expressed the opinion that in most cases, it is only through torture or the use of force that people would be law abiding or information could be extracted from a suspect.

However, a human rights expert and activist, Dr. Innocent Ajenogore, a consultant with Lite Africa who was the key resource person during the workshop, said Nigerian security agents would earn the respect of Nigerians and enhance the performance of their responsibilities if they executed their functions under the rule of law.

He further explained, “As you can see from the security personnel present, they still feel that the fundamental human rights or the constitution of Nigeria is a limitation to their ability to perform their duty.

“They do not know that it even enhances their ability to perform their responsibilities, if they follow and abide by it. When they do that, the citizens are likely to respect them more because their (citizens) fundamental human rights are respected.”

Earlier, Dr. Innocent Ajenogore had explained that the training workshop was key, particularly for the security personnel to really understand the value of human life and how to respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of Nigerians.

He added: “While the security personnel are doing their jobs, they should always have it at the back of their minds that there is need to respect the rights of suspects or detainees and Nigerians as a whole.

“Whenever there is rule of law, fundamental freedom, equality and the rights of the citizens are respected, there is bound to be peace, prosperity, growth in such communities.

“The rights of Nigerians must be respected at all times not minding how the security personnel feel. It is not about their emotions, it is about what the constitution says that should be applied at all times.”

Another resource person and Gombe State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Mohammed Shamsudeen Ayuba, noted that security personnel complain that “We, human rights defenders are fond of hiding individuals and preventing them from doing theirjobs.”

He said, “This kind of training is supposed to be given to them (security personnel) because some of them don’t know the difference between torture and human rights.”

Baring his mind on the issue, Chairman, Gombe State Network of Civil Society (GONET), Ambassador Ibrahim Yusuf, described the training as very important and timely because it would enlighten people at the community level to know how to engage relevant authorities whenever they had human rights abuses issues.

“This training can open the eyes of community, to share experiences, especially when they are having issues with some facilities, especially private companies that are within their communities. They don’t know where or how to channel their grievances,” he stated.

Dr. Erisa Danladi, Executive Director, Mother Hen Development Foundation and facilitator of the training, expressed delight over the interest shown by the participants during the training.

She said that it was a milestone for Mother Hen Development Foundation to be able to bring stakeholders on security to discuss issues of human rights.

“It’s very important we had this meeting. We brought the stakeholders together to be able to make our position known as human rights advocates. We’ve been doing this before but this is the first time we’re engaging security agents/’she pointed out.

Sta keholders at the workshop included community leaders, security agents, CSOs, private security organizations, journalists and human rights organizations, among many others.

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