The Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission convened at an extraordinary emergency meeting in Abuja on 15 January 2014.
Council considered the referral transmitted to the Commission by the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation (HAGF) and Minister of Justice on 23 December 2013 in relation to allegations contained in recent correspondence between former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR and President Goodluck E. Jonathan, GCFR.
In taking cognizance of the HAGF’s referral, Council made it clear that Rule 79(2)(e) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure the Commission provide for the HAGF or Attorneys-General of States to refer appropriate cases to the Commission. Council is at all times guided also by the provision of Section 6(3) of the National Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) that “In exercising its functions and powers under this Act, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.”
Council considered the allegations contained in the transmission from the HAGF to be quite weighty and grave and concluded that they raise issues of serious and systematic violations of the rights to life, access to fair hearing and justice, personal liberty, safety and security, equality before the law and the prohibition against discrimination.
Following comprehensive deliberations, Council decided, in exercise of its powers under Sections 5 and 6 of the National Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) and in accordance with Rule 79(2)(a), (c) and (e) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission to constitute a panel to inquire into the following:
(a) Whether or not there is or have been state-sponsored killings or assassinations in Nigeria at any time since November 1995 to date;
(b) If so, what organizations, institutions, agencies or persons were or are involved in or affected by such killings;
(c) Whether there is or has been at any time since November 1995, a list of persons to be targeted for watching or for such killings;
(d) If, in any of such cases, the perpetrators, known or unknown, were brought to justice or assisted, facilitated or helped by any persons or institutions to evade justice;
(e) Whether the victims of any such killings were or have been afforded access to truth or to effective remedies; and
(f) Undertake any other or further tasks related to or necessarily incidental to the foregoing.
Council authorized the Executive Secretariat of the Commission to immediately issue an invitation or call for memoranda on the above-indicated terms of reference.
To undertake this inquiry, Council constituted a Panel as follows:
(a) Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Chair;
(b) Professor Bem Angwe;
(c) Mrs. Eugenia Abu;
(d) D.O.C Ezeigwe Esq.; and
(e) Alhaji Ibrahim Nikau.
Council decided that this inquiry shall be public. A calendar and schedule for the public sittings of the inquiry shall be announced once the Commission determines.
Council also considered the deepening crisis in Rivers State and concluded that the situation calls for urgent action to verify the facts and stem any further deterioration.
Accordingly, Council constituted a panel to undertake a Verification mission into Rivers State as follows:
(a) Mr. Kayode Komolafe, Chair
(b) Mrs. Rita Ifeyinwa Njokanmma
(c) Mr. Eric Bell-Gam, MNI
The Verification Mission to Rivers State shall:
(a) Identify and verify the facts and actors involved in the ongoing crisis in Rivers State and any violations of human rights connected therewith;
(b) Identify and interact with all parties or actors connected with or affected by the crisis;
(c) Recommend any interim measures to ameliorate or prevent further escalation of the situation in Rivers state into serious or massive violations of human rights; and
(d) Undertake any other or further tasks related to or necessarily incidental to the foregoing.
Council authorized the verification mission to work on an expedited timescale and report back to the next regular meeting of Council before the end of February 2014.
DATED this 15th Day of January 2014