The Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu yesterday called on the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed to carry the indigenes of Abuja along in the administration and development of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Odinkalu, who was speaking in Abuja at a workshop on practice and enforcement of human rights in FCT, organized by the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung said, “FCT is the only place in the country where we have a capital without the owners of the land. The owners of Abuja land are driven out of Abuja town to the suburb”.
According to the NHRC chairman, “There is the need to have people from Abuja in the administration and economy of the Federal Capital Territory. Owners of Abuja needed to be treated with dignity. We got to find a way of giving back to this place”.
Speaking further in his paper titled, “Expanding the frontiers of human rights: The role of a lawyer”, Odinkalu, while lamenting the high rate of abuse of women in the nation’s capital, challenged legal practitioners to come up with a mechanism that would check sexual abuse of women in Abuja.
He charged the Unity Bar (Abuja NBA) to take the lead in the efforts by the NBA to stop sexual abuse in the Bar, adding also that, a situation where senior lawyers appropriate young female lawyers as “conference materials” does not portend good image for the legal profession and described such development as a, “culture of indignity, reinforced by impunity”.
Prof Odinlaku said the massive demolition by FCT Administration is not only condemnable; it is corrupt and also endangered the lives of everybody living in the FCT and added that:
“The ability of government to care for all who live within its territory is badly compromised by official corruption, indifference, cynicism and abuse of power which afflicts all echelons of governance, including those charged with ensuring accountability for such misconduct”.
Earlier in her address, the Chairman, NBA Abuja Human Rights Committee, Mrs. Ozioma Izuora said the Unity Bar’s initiative was to reiterate principles of human rights in order to better understand what needs to be done to take care of those who count on lawyers for solutions and also better understand each other towards achieving common goals”.
According to her, the concept of the workshop discussion was to find common grounds for collaborations with stakeholders within FCT, with a view to fashioning better ways to make the FCT and the country free from human abuses.
In her words: “Human rights practice and enforcement are governed by law. For this reason, some matters are technical and might require explanation. However, these laws are mostly drawn from natural rights which are written in our hearts. The tendency to get sentimental and high-strung about our beliefs might lead us to radically unpleasant outcomes”.