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French Envoy Decries Gross Violation of Human Rights in Nigeria

By Eric Ojo

Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr. Denys Gauer has expressed his worries over the spate of human rights violations in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

The French Ambassador, said cases of serious violations of fundamental human rights reported across the country in the last twelve months, are very disturbing and mind-boggling.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Panel Discussion on Violence Against Women and Girls in the North-East Region of Nigeria and screening of “The Man Who Mends Women”, as part of the events to mark the 2015 International Human Rights Day in Abuja, Mr. Gauer, noted that innumerable cases of human rights violations have happened in Nigeria within the period under review.

“Reviewing the last twelve months in Nigeria, I cannot recall all the cases and situations where people have been suffering from a violation of their basic individual rights, as well as lack of access to justice, to education, to healthcare and to security”, he said.

He added that the ordeal of the still detained Chibok girls and the tragedy of all other girls and women who have been similarly abducted before and after them, and of all the victims of the continuing abject wave of terrorism, are instances that one cannot but mention, especially in an event organized to celebrate the International Human Rights Day in Nigeria.

Mr. Gauer also recalled an experience he had recently during a visit to the University of Ibadan, where he saw a poster pasted at the entrance of the university presenting a poor child, a street seller, with a caption, “Corruption deprived me of education”.

“This is also very striking and important, and let us support the efforts presently being made to promote honesty and moralize public life”, he added.

He further stated that France has consecutively in the last three years, collaborated and participated in events organized to celebrate the International Human Rights Day in Nigeria.

He also expressed his satisfaction over the role his country has played, especially in hosting such events in conjunction with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other local, national and international non-governmental organization (NGOs) that are active in the protection and promotion of fundamental rights in Nigeria.

“This support is one of the priorities of the French cooperation effort here, an effort presently oriented towards child protection, access to justice for women, fighting human trafficking and support to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)”, he further explained.

The envoy also noted that the Human Rights Day presents an opportunity to remember, remind, and repeat together with many people all around the world, that human rights are universal and apply to all, irrespective of race, age, tribe, gender, wealth or political affiliation.

“Yes, human rights apply to all, and not as a privilege, not as a gift, not as a favour, not as a permission, but as plain rights”, he stressed.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Executive Secretary, NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe thanked the French Embassy in Nigeria for organizing the event and for its consistency in partnering with the Commission over the years.

Prof. Angwe said the supportive role of France and the international community, when Chibok girls saga happened, has enabled the government to take human rights violations seriously, adding that the Commission will continue to ensure that the fundamental rights of Nigerians are protected, respected and enforced.

He also used the occasion to inform the audience that the Commission is marking its 20th anniversary along side with this year’s International Human Rights Day which is signposts 67 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in Paris.

In his goodwill message, the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Nigeria, Ambassador Michel Arrion, observed that the spate of sexual violence against girls and women in Nigeria, particularly in the North-East region, was horrific.

Arrion therefore called for increased sensitization and awareness about the plight of women and girls in Nigeria with a view to redressing the ugly trend.


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