The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a foremost pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation in the country has described the neglect suffered by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the country as the “worst case of human rights violations that exist in Nigeria”.
This was disclosed in a statement by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator and Zainab Yusuf, National Media Affairs Director, both of HURIWA.
The statement also noted that the organisation will, on October 3, 2018, hold the yearly national human rights lecture during which the plights of millions IDPS in Nigeria will be the focus.
Asides that, the rights group will crown the Human Rights Queen of 2018 and Human Rights Baby of the Year, just as 50 indigent youths will receive training in different vocational skills.
According to the statement, HURIWA disclosed that it was “convinced that the criminal neglect suffered by IDPs in all parts of Nigeria as a result of man-made and natural disasters are the worst cases of human rights violations that exist in Nigeria, which are not sufficiently redressed by institutions set out to do so.”
The group expressed consternation that government has not provided sufficient oversights to such critical institutions to ensure that IDPS are treated humanely with all their constitutional rights guaranteed and enforced.
“Our management team sat down and reflected on the diverse human rights challenges confronting Nigerians and we arrived at a consensus that the relevant agencies set up to provide reliefs to victims of disasters have failed thereby occasioning widespread human rights violations, including all sorts of criminal deprivations.
“The many IDP camps in Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna with thousands of Nigerians driven from their homes by armed Fulani herdsmen have faced horrendous ordeals due to poor health, poor hygiene, and lack of the basic necessities that are meant to sustain them. Worst still is that those who masterminded the violent attacks are still roaming the streets as free people and have the capacity and motivations to re-offend.
"For example, several victims of the herdsmen crisis in Benue State currently taking refuge at the IDP camps in Daudu have reportedly come down with malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition, leading to the death of 12 of the displaced persons in the last one month.
"Children are also not spared as many are diagnosed of malnutrition and diarrhea. From both media and health personnel at the Daudu 1 and 2 camps, we heard that but for the relentless intervention of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and the state government, the situation would have gotten out of hand.
“The people are getting sick and some die, while others are surviving. In the last one month, so many came down with malaria. We see between 50 and 70 patients every day and about 40 of them are down with malaria and others with diarrhea. They come with complaints of headache, pains, fever and all of that which were confirmed to be malaria.
“The death rate is not so high because of the intervention of the state government and the Red Cross, but there have been deaths. In the last one month two died of malaria at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, while ten others died in the Daudu camps.
“As for children, malnutrition is on a very high rate. It’s a major problem with children in the camp. But for the Red Cross intervention, it would have been worse. At the moment Red Cross has undertaken a programme to stem malnutrition among the children. They are being given food and packs of nutritional diet called Plumpy Nuts each week, which is monitored by the Red Cross to check the malnutrition problem.”
HURIWA recalled that in Adamawa and Taraba states, hundreds of internally displaced persons are left to wallow in penury, neglect and many have become sick, dejected and emotionally traumatised with no hope for a quick resolution of these challenges.
As such, the national lecture will also look into the allegations of sexual abuse of IDPS by security operatives in places such as Maiduguri, other parts of Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Adamawa states, with a view to ascertaining how far these grave allegations have been redressed.
Relevant security agencies have been invited to attend the lecture and deliver their positions on the ill-treatment of IDPS; the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, was specifically invited and is expected to deliver an address.
Major speakers at the event are Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senate Committee Chairman on Power, the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission, Barrister Tony Ojukwu, Chairman of Federal Road Safety Commission, Barrister Bhukari Bello, the Director General/Federal Commissioner of Nigerian Refugees Commission, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; foreign diplomats and leading clerics.
Also expected are leaders of public and private sectors.
EbonyBronze Beauty Parlour has been commissioned to provide free makeup services for the first ten ladies to attend and stay throughout the lecture.
20 students from poor homes will also receive N10,000 subsidy for the WAEC fees.
Also slated to receive honours are President of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero and Senator Abaribe.
Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council will also receive honorary mention as a human rights friendly council chairman in Nigeria.
HURIWA, a not-for-profit body, was founded eleven years ago as an advocacy and media-affiliated platform to champion the respect for the human rights of all Nigerians. It has more than 8,000 registered members. The 2018 lecture is the eleventh in the series.