Irked by last week’s inflammatory comment by Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has threatened to invoke the weight of the legal instruments within its mandate on the governor.
el-Rufai had threatened to send foreigner who intervene in the country’s general election back to their country in body bags, a comment that drew global condemnation.
In a statement signed by the commission’s director of corporate affairs and external linkages, Mr. Lambert Oparah, Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, the NHRC said it condemned in strong terms the statement credited to the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai warning that foreigners who interfere with the forthcoming election will go back in ‘body bags’.
Ojukwu said the Commission called on politicians to refrain from acts capable of instigating violence ahead of the election.
According to the Commission, the Kaduna State Governors statement is highly unacceptable and should be condemned by all and sundry.
“The Commission calls on the governor to retract the statement in the light of the dangerous signal it could send to both Nigerians and foreigners alike. It therefore advises all persons in authority as well as members of the public to refrain from making any careless statement that can incite or encourage innocent Nigerians to violence thereby violating the right to vote and participate in governance in a peaceful environment.
“The Commission stated that it will invoke the weight of the legal instruments within its mandate on the governor and any other persons who may indulge in such hateful statements in the name of politics.
“The Commission is monitoring and recording all forms of hate and dangerous speeches as well as election violence, and documenting same for purpose of bringing the perpetrators to book.
“The Executive Secretary urged the International observer groups in Nigeria not to be dissuaded from carrying out their official responsibility in the forth coming elections. All perpetrators of hate speech and election violence will be recommended for prosecution by the Commission.
“The Commission called on the various law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant and ensure that they nip in the bud any tendency of electoral violence before, during and after the 2019 general elections, while maintaining neutrality in their official duties,” Oparah stated.
In another development, the commission said it distanced itself from the activities of a group known as ‘Nigerian Human Rights Community’ with the acronym NHRC.
The commission noted that it has been inundated by inquiries from members of the public after a group addressed a press conference in Lagos during the week backing one of the political parties.
“The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a national institution for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights and has no political affiliation.
“The use of the acronym NHRC is misleading and the Commission will take necessary legal measures to address the anomaly.
“We urge Nigerians to ignore the mischievous attempt to mislead anyone into believing that the acronym used in this instance refers to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).