Monday, December 11, 2017 6:56 pm
Mr Frank Tietie, Executive Director, Citizen’s Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), on Monday said human rights knowledge among Nigerians was low and urged citizens to increase their consciousness.
Tietie stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of Human Rights Fiesta organized by CASER in Abuja to mark the 2017 Human Rights Day celebration.
According to him, there is need for every Nigerian to know his rights so that people will be in a better position to guard against trampling on their rights.
“The human rights consciousness in Nigeria is very low, and that is why we as ordinary citizens are now taking the initiate to create awareness.
“Human rights is the key to protection and good living; we believe that when we as ordinary citizens and the government concentrate in respecting human rights, our country will be better.
“This is because every policy of the government and implementation will be driven by the need to put the human being and his needs at the centre of all governmental affairs.
“Human rights education is the key; we need to increase the consciousness of rights that are beyond those contained in the Constitution to those accepted internationally.’’
Tietie said that the masses needed to know that rights were not privileges but inalienable.
He said it meant that rights could neither be given nor taken.
According to him, the people must commit to understanding, commit to knowing, commit to realising that these rights belong to them and that they don’t need to beg for them.
The group’s director added that it was the duty of the government and citizens to ensure that rights were observed and enforced.
Amnesty International Country Director in Nigeria, Mrs Osai Ojigho, said that the international law was clear under the Vienna Convention and that Nigeria could not deviate on any of its commitments.
Ojigho said that Nigerians needed to stand up for their rights and of fellow citizens.
“It is about speaking up, especially as an eyewitness who observed a violation that occurred; it can also mean drawing the attention of authorities to such acts.
“Nigerians need to learn to make complaints in order to stop acts of dehumanisation from continuing; Nigerians should learn to make a complaint because most times people don’t know who to complain to.
“Apart from the police, people can complain to civil society organizations, human rights commission and religious bodies so they could take up the issues.’’
She said that the only way Nigerians could do this was if they were aware of their rights, adding that Nigerians needed to seek information about things and know the responsible agencies handling them.
She urged them to stand up for human rights even when they were not directly involved and make the public know what was going on to enable responsible agencies to step in.
Executive Director, OJA Development Consult, Mr Jide Ojo, who also spoke to NAN, said that a lot needed to be done to ensure that many Nigerians enjoyed their fundamental human rights.
Ojo urged Nigerians to continue to speak out against human rights violation, adding that “silence is not golden when human rights abuses are at play.’’
“We must speak out; we must engage the media. I know how much the media have tried to bring to light human rights abuses, look at what is trending now with Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“It is the people who have spoken out that are making the police to now restructure that department.
“If people had kept quite as they have done over the years, SARS would have continued to trample on the rights of Nigerians; so, we must speak out,’’ he said. C