May I on behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of the CLEEN Foundation, warmly welcome you all to the Project Launch and Capacity Building Workshop for personnel of the police oversight bodies in Nigeria. This workshop is organized by the CLEEN Foundation with the generous support from the Open Society Foundation coordinated by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa in Nigeria. This workshop and the project by CLEEN is coming at an crucial time in our country in view of the multiplicity of national and international reports of human rights violations in counter-insurgency efforts by security personnel and the plethora of policy frameworks and laws for the prevention of violent extremism in the country. Beyond Nigeria as well, the call for an enhanced respect for the fundamental human rights of citizens within conflict situations also resonates globally; with international instruments in place to protect and promote human rights in conflict contexts.
The CLEEN Foundation’s project titled ‘Improving Human Rights Compliance in Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria’ is conceptualized against a backdrop of the ongoing conflicts situations in various parts of the country that have also witnessed the continuous active operations of the military and para-military security agents across the space and the emerging grave concerns in relations to human rights violations in those conflict-affected areas of the country. Most of these violations have occurred within a framework of countering violent extremism by security officials. Often times, what we see is that the evidence for justice is either suppressed, or the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow or a brazen disregard for these laws by security officials who operate with impunity.
Further, within the discourse shaping current narratives on the aforementioned is the role of the oversight agencies and internal accountability mechanisms set up by the different security agencies for checking the excesses of erring security officers. For us, accountability mechanisms set up by the state need to be more effective to address these concerns in a timely and effective manner to boost the confidence of the citizens for these agencies and for the security institutions at large. With the current security challenges confronting us a collective, the need for effectiveness in mandate delivery of the various policing oversight bodies in Nigeria through an enhanced architecture of cooperation, cohesion and trust amongst the agencies themselves is of paramount importance to the citizens. Beyond this, the various laws and counter-terrorism strategies must be put to test to see their role in promoting or undermining human rights in conflict situations. This project therefore aims to address these gaps by working closely with the oversight bodies for enhanced accountability and greater respect for human rights by security agencies. This 2-day workshop is organized to:
- Formally launch the project ‘Improving Human Rights Compliance in Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria’ and present findings from our baseline survey on human rights compliance by security agencies to the participants and security officials.
- Build the capacity of personnel of the various oversight and accountability mechanisms of the police oversight agencies and
- Develop a working document to guide quarterly discussions and interventions going forward by the oversight bodies.
This statement will not be complete without thanking you the distinguished guests from the different oversight agencies, other relevant government bodies, development partners, the Media, representatives’ of different civil society organisations for coming to this program despite your busy schedules. For us at CLEEN, we do not take this for granted; this again indicates to us the importance you attach to the subject matter of this gathering. All of your support has made this meeting a reality. Finally, as we sit here for the next two days to deliberate, it is our hope that this meeting will lay a strong foundation for an enhanced collaborative space aimed at strengthening the mandate delivery of oversight bodies with a view to engender greater compliance and respect by security agents to the human rights laws of the land.
Thank you all for listening!