Human Rights Boss: Only Dialogue Can End Insurgency

July 29, 2021
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Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu.

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By Sam Kayode

Executive Secretary (ES) of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, has said that resolving the conflict around Boko Haram is not the problem of the military alone.

This lingering insurgency according to the lawyer and advocate of alternative solutions to conflicts must be sorted out by dialogue if we must see the end of the conflict between the state and the non state agents.

Ojukwu who was in Maiduguri Wednesday as the convener of the entry dialogue and stakeholder consultative workshop on reconciliation, Transitional and Restorative justice in the north east region of Nigeria noted that all conflicts all over the world must surely end on the round table.

He said that the human rights commission believes so much in alternative settlement that it will do all it can to contribute to the Nigerian conflict which has touched all the six geographic zone of the country.

He went on: “All conflicts all over the world have been settled on the round mediation table. At the end of the day, after all the AK47, the bombs and aircraft fighters, eventually people have to sit together and resolve these issues. So we are looking forward to the fact that the Nigerian conflict would also be resolved somehow. We cannot live like this forever.

“Let me say that resolving the conflict around Boko Haram is not only the problem of the Nigerian military. It is also not the problem of the government alone; the citizens must be involved.

“The military cannot do much without the cooperation of the citizens in intelligence gathering for instance. Intel gathering has improved, look at the beautiful work the cjtf is doing for instance. Can anyone wish it away? Can we deny the fact that they have contributed a lot in dealing with the situation?

” I think that it should be a whole lot of country approach, also those of us in human rights, in the civil society and the media, we all have roles to play. If you keep reporting negatively about what boko haram is achieving and not what the military is achieving. That will not be good reportage, so we need to balance our reportage to ensure that we have the national interest at heart, that in essence means that everybody must play his or her role in the issue.”

WHY ALTERNATIVE DIALOGUE TO CONFLICTS?

The ES said that alternative sorting of conflicts is very important at this time in the history of the country battling with insurgency, banditry, farmers and cattle rearers problem and broad day light abduction threatening the internal security of the state.

His views: This project is very important for the national human rights commission, for the government and development partners. And this is for the mere reasons that once there is a conflict like this in any community you must be able to reconcile the partners involved, some people may have been affected in the conflict, you must take measures to reintegrate and rehabilitate them. Otherwise, you create room for future conflict.

“And that is why we want to embark on this project because there have been a lot of issues arising from these conflicts and we cannot pretend as if we don’t know that these issues are on the ground. The importance of this initiative is that, off course there are the formal justice system, the courts are there, police are there the judiciary is there that resolve differences with people.

“But you will agree with me that it is not all cases that are best resolved in the courts. Its not all cases that are even resolved by the police, after all in our traditional lives in the community, we have ways we used to live together even before the arrival of the formal justice system.

“That is why we are looking at the combination of the formal and informal justice system and that is what restorative justice is all about. Using the traditional, cultural and local remedies within the communities to bring about peace. It is faster and more enduring and we think that is the way forward.” He posited.

The ES said that, “it doesn’t mean that the formal justice system will no longer be there. It would still be there but how many cases would have to go to court? How many cases we would have to refer to the police? So, we think that instead of allowing some things to go on without being attended to, we should use the traditional system that is known and accepted to the people to resolve as many differences as possible. And many issues that may lead to conflicts in the future.”

The ES further said that the three days workshop organized for stake holders in North East Nigeria was done because they are trying to build a future where many fracases will be resolved to prevent more conflicts in the future.

FARMERS AND HERDERS CRISIS

Speaking on the lingering farmers and cattle rearers crisis in the country, he said “I think the government is addressing that at their own level. There is no one single approach to any of this because everybody’s understanding is different. So you are going to have multifaceted decisions and at the end of the day, I believe the constitution will prevail.

“And all we need is constant advocacy and enlightenment because people discuss things from the standpoint of their own understanding.

“So if somebody doesn’t share your own understanding, the only way to get across is to do advocacy and sensitization until probably the person starts to see things from your own point of view.

“Then you’ll see that things will start moving forward effectively,” he concluded

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