NHRC Holds Gubernatorial Town Hall, Sue For Respect On Human Rights, Peaceful Elections   

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Politics

By Mary Bassey

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has held a gubernatorial town hall dialogue session with political parties and their candidate, suing for respect on human rights and peaceful 2023 general elections.

Held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the Commission in its Mobilizing Voters for Election (MOVE) exercise said it is pertinent to have the town hall in order extract commitments from the guber candidates on how they will tackle the issue of human rights violations as well as discourage election violence.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu while addressing candidates and participants said free and fair elections are key tenets of a democratic system of governance as elections should be a time of critical national self-reflection on the commitment to the social contract of democracy and the achievement of human rights.

Tony Ojukwu represented by the Director of National Human Rights Institute, Abuja – Mrs. Ijeoma Nwakama urged political parties and their candidates to focus on issues and present Nigerians with choices that bother on what they will do to achieve the basic human rights of citizens.

These issues she said include gender equality, shrinking of the civic space, public accountability, police reform, rule of law, women empowerment, and protection of the most vulnerable in the society – children, youths, older persons, and persons living with disabilities.

Governorship candidates on their part took turns to present to participants ways they can tackle human rights violations and the stifling civic space among others.

They posited that politicians are drivers of political and election violence, affirming it is time they stop playing politics with human rights.

In a goodwill message, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State, Prof. Gabriel Yomere said the timing for the town hall meeting is apt, noting that human rights violations are the drivers of election violence.

He implores the candidates if elected, there should be good policies that will be beneficial to the common man.

While berating the government for withholding pensions and gratuity of retired workers, he posited that: “you can not fight corruption starting from the grassroots, rather from the top because it is the hub of corruption,” enjoining candidates to be practical in their words.

On his part, the State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Remi Ajuga said it is important to organize the program to make candidates and citizens have rethink as they march to the polls.

“There is a need for every voter to vote according to their conscience and what they know is good and right for themselves and the society.

“Also, it is to make the candidates rethink the area they need to deliver to the people in return for their votes.”

The event which gathered civil society organizations, security agents, the media, political parties, and candidates included a question-and-answer section as well as a group photograph.


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