By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos, Oct. 7, 2020 The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it receives more than one million complaints of human rights violations each year.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, disclosed this when he led his team on a courtesy visit to the Chi limited in Lagos on Wednesday.
He said there was the need for collaboration to address human rights violations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Chi limited is Food & Beverage industry in Nigeria, with no fewer than 38 years’ experience in building innovative brands.
Ojukwu said that business activities in Nigeria had brought development to the country in different ways, from infrastructural development, job creation, commerce, and availability of goods and services.
According to him, sadly, such business benefits are also sometimes associated with negative impact which affects the human rights of people in host communities.
“To address such negativities, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in collaboration with relevant partners put in place a draft of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Human Rights and Business, to serve as a guide for the way businesses are conducted.
“It highlights the government’s obligation to protect, business obligation to respect, and individual’s ability to access and seek effective remedies when human rights are violated where businesses are conducted in Nigeria.
“The Commission receives over one million complaints in a year; these complaints cut across all forms of human rights violations.
“This huge number of complaints received by the commission is due to the level of human rights awareness we have created over time.
“We need to raise the bar and we need Chi to come along with us in this as part of its corporate social responsibility.
“Chi is a household name and engaging with you in the campaign against human rights violation is a worthy adventure,” he said.
According to him, since inception in 1995, the Commission has continued to address a miriad of human rights violations, ranging from violation of the rights of the child to sexual and gender-based violence.
He said other human rights violations addressed were assault, illegal detention, environmental pollution, discrimination on the ground of health, social status, political affiliation, religion, etc.
Ojukwu added that the commission also engaged in continuous human rights education through advocacy campaigns such as road walks, sensitisation in schools, market places and motor parks, radio talk shows, television drama, etc, to educate masses on their rights.
The NHRC boss said that Nigerians were equally educated and also knew the appropriate ways to seek redress when such rights were violated.
The executive secretary said: “There is no doubt that the commission is the only government institution statutorily mandated to promote, protect and enforce human rights in Nigeria, we cannot do it alone.
“We have always collaborated with relevant bodies like ministries, departments and agencies of government, development partners, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisation, faith-based organisations, and traditional rulers to deliver on the different mandates of the NHRC.
“Our determination to keep advancing the course of human rights has brought us here today to partner your esteemed organisation to support the commission in its quest to take the knowledge of human rights to the doorsteps of every household in Nigeria.”
Ojukwu said that as part of human rights education activities, the commission in collaboration with Pillars of Hope Africa Initiative was carrying out advocacy through a television drama series called, ‘Silent Prejudice’.
He said that the TV drama series was aimed at bringing out the ills and gross human rights violation associated with discrimination on the grounds of social status called Osu caste system, mainly practiced in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.
The executive secretary expressed hope that this advocacy programme would lead to the total abrogation of the obnoxious culture which had no place in modern civilisation.
“May I use the opportunity of this visit to ask that your esteemed organisation supports the commission in succeeding in this advocacy by way of placing an advert to sponsor the programme, `silent prejudice’.
“It has viewership of over 50 million Nigerians both at home and abroad,” Ojukwu said.
According to him, the commission has toll-free numbers in public domain for people to complain about any violation of their human rights for NHRC’s intervention, saying every Nigerian is entitled to protection of human rights.
Ojukwu, who noted that the management of Chi Ltd had assured the NHRC of strict compliance with human rights in its business, urged all multinational and production companies to comply with human rights.
The executive secretary said that the commission was also partnering the firm to preach the message of non-discrimination and non-stigmatisation to all Nigerians as well as reaching out to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
In his reaction, Mr Deepanjan Roy, the Chi Ltd Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, expressed gratitude to the NHRC for the partnership to fight human rights violations.
Roy said: “We are indeed grateful to have you here and we are determined to partner you in the fight against human rights violation.
“Some of our staff members have suffered such violations and we know how it feels to be a victim.
“We will also be interested in addressing the issue of nutrition for the IDP children.
“Let’s see how we can contribute our quota to their feeding as part of our contributions to help humanity.
“You cannot help but cry if you see the terrible situations they find themselves.”