Recently, CLEEN Foundation in partnership with the British High Commission in Nigeria opened a series of training workshops for Human Rights’ Defenders from North East Nigeria in Abuja.
Following the ultra human abuse cases in the North-East Nigeria amidst the wanton killings of Nigerians by the dreaded members of Boko Haram, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Human Rights Watch, The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan on the crisis in north eastern Nigeria and the heavy toll it has taken on the civilian population.
The Group also said they were concerned by the intensified attacks by the armed group Boko Haram leave civilians, including children, facing war crimes and other mass atrocities. Reports said Boko Haram has killed thousands of people since the start of the violent insurgency in 2009.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria, more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced since the beginning of the state of emergency in the northeast in May 2013, and the number keeps growing as the violence continues unabated.
Further reports also claimed that Nigerian security forces have consistently failed to deter and halt attacks on civilians, including mass abductions. According to the FIDH, there are also mounting evidence of grave human rights violations and possible war crimes, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and acts of torture, committed against civilians by the security forces and local vigilante groups, collectively known as the Civilian Joint Task Force.
“We urge your government to uphold its responsibility to protect populations from mass atrocity crimes and end human rights abuses against civilians. This includes by ensuring that security forces observe international human rights and humanitarian law as they confront Boko Haram, and that all government agencies exercise due process, including fair trials, and uphold the prohibition against torture, enforced disappearances, prolonged detention and arbitrary executions when dealing with suspected Boko Haram members. Independent and transparent investigations should also be conducted into the reported abuses committed by the security forces, and perpetrators held to account without delay. We urge your government to publicly and regularly report on the progress and outcome of these investigations”, FIDH stated.
However, the Islamist insurgency, Boko Haram in Nigeria is reported to have killed at least 2,053 civilians in an estimated 95 attacks during the first half of 2014. According to foreign agencies, the figures are based on detailed analyses of media reports as well as field investigations.
The killings and other abuses were part of widespread attacks on civilians in over 70 towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria, in the federal capital, Abuja, and other areas that are apparent crimes against humanity.
Based on the reported cases in the North-East, a Group decided to train residents of the zone on how to defend themselves on the face of abuse.
The training commenced on October 28th , 2014 with a first batch of about 40 participants and it will continue through the week with two subsequent batches of trainees.
The training workshop aimed at building the capacity of 120 human right advocates to better support human right protection and defense initiatives in their communities. The training is imperative in the face of human right and security challenges in North East, Nigeria.
According to the Group, the training is coming after an earlier mapping study through which the group identified human rights defenders in North East.
It was gathered that the feedback from the identified human rights advocates highlighted the need for training and therefore informed the training workshop.
The Group’s executive Director, Kemi Okenyodo, said “at the end of the training, participants are expected to return to their different organizations and communities better informed and educated on modules such as Understanding and analyzing human rights, data collection and advocacy, report writing and documentation as well as storage and litigation of human rights abuses”.
The training workshops would be followed up with a mentoring programme for the trainees to assist them further refine their skills and identify entry points for engagement in their communities.
The evaluation of this training and mentorship Kemi said, will help to refine the framing of their future activities as they look forward to sustained commitment and increased awareness on the defense of human rights in Nigeria with particular emphasis on the North -East geopolitical zone.
In the last one year, the Group has been in the vanguard of free-violent election by tasking the stakeholders on the necessary things to do in conducting violence-free and rigging-free elections in Nigeria.