PERIODIC REVIEW OF NIGERIA
SUBMISSION ON BEHALF OF A COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS IN NORTH EAST NIGERIA
17TH SESSION OF THE UPR WORKING GROUP, OCTOBER 2013
THE RIGHTS OF VULNERABLE GROUPS: WOMEN’S RIGHTS, CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AND MINORTIY RIGHTS IN NIGERIA.
- FOLLOW UP TO THE PREVIOUS REVIEW
In its previous review in 2009, Nigeria accepted recommendations
- To repeal laws that permit violence and discrimination against women, to implement legislation to protect women against sexual and gender-based violence and to ensure women victims have access to protection and justice (Recommendation 103.16, made by Norway, Mexico and Ireland).
Members of the coalition note that in compliance with the Beijing Affirmative Action, the Government has made efforts to meet its obligations in respect of the 35% Affirmative Action contained in the Beijing recommendations from 1995.
However, there is a huge gap in the inability of the legislature to pass the Bill on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) into law and this is affecting the full realization of the rights of women in Nigeria. For example, up till now, women in certain parts of Nigeria cannot exercise their right of inheritance after the demise of their husbands. Women are also excluded from participation in political contest and decision making.
Equally, some States in Nigeria have not yet domesticated the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) enacted by the National Assembly as the Child’s Rights Acts 2003, thus denying the children access to justice. The absence of the Child’s Rights Law in some Northern States also hampers the realization of the rights of the girl-child. This is a result of parental prejudice in favour of male children attending schools as against the female child. These stereotyped practices tend to discriminate against the girl child and foster discrimination.
Furthermore, only 24 States in the Country have so far enacted the Child’s Right Law. Even those which have passed the law have not yet established Family Courts, an essential tool in the enhancement of child-justice system, majority of the beneficiaries of who are female. This is a denial of the rights of children to justice. For instance, in Plateau State Nigeria, there is a reported case of child who was alleged to have committed acts of terrorism. He was charged at the Federal High Court Jos instead of the Family Court as prescribed by the Child’s rights Law 2005. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to 7years imprisonment. This is a fragrant violation of the right to justice.
Cases of rape are on the increase in Nigeria. Rape cases are reported daily in Nigeria. Sometimes men rape men. There are also cases of forced or early marriages, there are activities of rituality, there are cases of rapes in detention facilities etc. the rise in rape cases can be attributed to a weak judicial system, weak legal framework and enforcement procedures. Section 31 of the child’s right Act 2003 provides that no person shall have sexual intercourse with a child; any person who does that contravenes the law and commits an offence of rape and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life. However, though cases of rape are reported daily, the number of perpetrators facing justice or standing trial are none-existent or very negligible. For example, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria alleged to have married a child of between 13 and 16 years old is till sitting in the senate making laws for others to obey whereas he cannot obey the laws. Similar provisions such as section 31 referred to above are also found Child’s right Laws operational in the States that have passed the Child’s Rights Laws. It is quite obvious that Nigeria is yet to meet its commitments in this area even as the rights of citizens continues to be breached.
Nigeria also accepted recommendations:
- To end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), including to enact legislation to prohibit FGM, to continue awareness campaigns to eradicate this practice. (Recommendations 103.18, made by Austria, Ukraine and Norway).
Some Socio-cultural practices, e.g. harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in some parts of Nigeria, are hampering the realization of the rights of women. The Constitution provides in section 34 of the Nigeria Constitution 199 (as amended) provides that every individual is entitled to respect for dignity of his person and accordingly, no person shall be subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading treatment. It is noted here that the continued practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) subject women to inhuman and degrading treatment and also exposes women to Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Nigeria accepted recommendations:
- To improve conditions for women, in particular, in the area of reproductive health and to increase efforts in the area of maternal health (Recommendations 103.27 made by Malaysia, and 103.28 by Holy See).
However, in the area of Health Rights experience has shown that discriminatory implementation and lack of uniform policy on the National Health Insurance Scheme has contributed immensely to increase of the Maternal Mortality Rate in the Country, especially in the Northern Part of Nigeria.
- THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK
Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution of 199 (as amended) provides for Fundamental Rights of Citizens, including the legal framework and background for the promotion and protection of Human Rights. To protect women from the patriarchal dominance of men in the society, Section 42 of the Constitution provides for non-discrimination against any person on ground of tribe, race, origin, sex, or religion. Other Sections in Chapter 4 of the Constitution provide for the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of thought, religion and conscience.
Being a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Nigeria has also in Chapter 2 of the Constitution reflected the Fundamental objective and Directives Principles of State Policy which in principle is a recognition of the right to employment, right to housing, right to health, right to food and right to water. All these rights apply to everybody, women and men equally. However, the non-justiciability of the provisions of Chapter 2 constitutes a serious impediment to the full enjoyment the civil and political rights enshrined in Chapter 4. The provisions in Chapter 2 are non-justiciable in the sense that no citizen can hold the government accountable for non-fulfillment of these rights. Neither can the courts be approached to enforce these rights. Women are disproportionally affected because, by reason of being vulnerable, they are not economically empowered to access housing, education, health care, food, etc. to be to enjoy their rights. There are also policies that seek to enhance the health rights of women such as the National Gender Policy and the National Insurance Health Scheme (NHIS). It is sadly noted that these polices exist to a large extent on paper. Majority of Nigerians are not aware of the existence of these policies and how they can benefit from therefrom.
We note that despite Nigeria’s support of most of the recommendations made in its 2009 UPR, implementation of these has been slow.
There are a number of challenges to the realization of the rights and freedoms set out above. These include:
- The prevalence of corruption in all sectors of Nigeria Society is hampering the implementation of these laws and policies. Pervasive corruption in the judiciary as arbiters, the police as investigators and prosecutors, and even the lawyers who deliberately thwart the course of justice. These vices affect the quick dispensation of justice; for example, public officers arrested and brought to Court are able to bribe themselves out of the snare of justice.
- Inadequate monitoring and evaluation by the project evaluation unit, the National and State Assemblies, the Civil Societies, and the Communities.
- Inadequate awareness of the existence of these rights and freedom throughout the Country.
- Deliberate frustration of the passage of the relevant laws by the various House of Assembly.
- The unwillingness of the custodians of traditional values to abandon harmful traditional practices.
- Deliberate attempts by men to frustrate women’s enjoyment of these rights. For example, some men refuse their wives active participation in decision making, ownership of property, the right to bail a suspect at the Police Station, the right to eat gizzard, etc.
- THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION ON THE GROUND
Despite the legal framework contained in the human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory, and the National Constitution designed to enhance the promotion of the rights of women in Nigeria, women’s human rights have been violated with impunity.
Traditional practices still prevent women from inheritance and ownership of property. For instance, in the Bachama and Lunguda Kingdoms of Adamawa State, women do not inherit property, rather they are considered as property to ne inherited by men. There are daily reported cases of rape of women and increased domestic violence. Women in Nigeria are also refused the right to secure the bail of persons alleged to have committed offences and detained by the police.
The rights of children also suffer infringement, for example through early marriages, street hawking, hard labour, sexual abuse, exploitation, and violence, all of which are prohibited by the Child’s rights Law. In terms of health rights, forced Marriages can have the consequences of inflicting Virginal Vesicular Fistula (VVF) and mental disorder on children.
Recently, the National Assembly passed a law criminalizing those different sexual orientation prescribing a jail; sentence for several years.
Cases of extra-judicial killings still abound. In plateau State, various cases of extra-judicial killings by State and non-State actors abound. The notorious incident of Dogon Nahawa in Jos South Local Government Area is a case in point. In 2010 some persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked the village and carried out some summary execution of villagers. The invading assailants killed mostly defenseless women and children. Also in 2012, some assailants invaded Toak, a suburb in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. The invaders killed over 15 children in one invasion. Also the Joint Task Force (JTF), mandated to secure peace in Kano, Borno, Yobe, carry out extra-judicial killings with impunity. The killings in the last quarter of 2012 and included women and children.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION BY NIGERIA
In view of the foregoing information, we the coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in North East Nigeria call on the government of Nigeria to quickly implement its commitments as accepted in the 2009 UPR thus:
- To accelerate the process of passing into National Law the various rights based bills before the State Houses and the National Assembly, such as the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) in order to broaden the scope of protection for vulnerable members of the society, especially women and children.
- To encourage those States in Nigeria, which have not yet done so, to take immediate steps to domesticate the Child’s Right Act (2003) and also to put in place all necessary structures, in particular the Family Courts, for its implementation.
- To fully and urgently implement the national Gender Policy. In 2006, the National Gender Policy was adopted to replace National Policy on women. Intensified steps should be taken by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take special measures to bridge the gender gaps in political representations in both elective and appointive posts by 2015.
- To implement the National Health Insurance Scheme at the National level and also at the level of the States and the Local Government Council Areas. The Nigerian Government, in meaning its obligations to its commitments to improve the conditions of women especially in the area maternal mortality, should invoke the recently passed Freedom of Information Act to adequately inform members of the public the existence of and how to realize their rights, particularly the rights of women to health.
- To keep up sustained efforts in the fight against corruption by ensuring the efficient work of The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFCC), to build on current appreciable efforts in the fight against corruption. The Nigerian Government must lead in demonstrating the Will to fight corruption by dealing decisively with corrupt officials. Secondly, the capacity of the Anti-Corruption Agencies such as The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Judiciary to fight corruption. Civil Society Organizations must be given encouragement to highlight and sensitize the public on the social vices of corruption.
- To empower CSOs/NGOs to raise community concern and act against corruption.
- To encourage The National Human Rights Commission to collaborate with Non-Governmental Organizations, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Civil Society Groups to deepen awareness of the Treaties, Constitution and relevant Policies that positively affect the welfare of the people. To empower CSOs, NGOs, and CBOs to conduct programmes towards creating awareness of rights at Community levels.
- To review the Law recently passed by national Assembly criminalizing same sex marriage to ensure equality of rights, particularly the term of imprisonment imposed by the law.
- Nigeria must conscientiously reinforce its justice administration institutions such as the Courts, The Polices, The Nigeria Bar Association and the Prisons to effectively guarantee the rights of citizens.
- The rule of law being the bastion of democracy, Nigeria should ensure that every citizen submit to the dictates of law.