By Salim Yunusa
The Senate has confirmed the nominations of 12 persons for appointment, as Chairman and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Their confirmation followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, at plenary on Tuesday.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti), in his presentation, said that the committee considered all necessary requirements for appointments of board members of NHRC.
He, however, said that the Substantive Executive Secretary of the Commission, who is also a member of the governing council by the virtue of his position, having been screened hitherto by the Senate was not screened by the committee with the other nominees.
He said the representatives of the Federal Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, and Interior, are ex-officio members, who do not require confirmation by the Senate because they don’t have voting powers on the council of NHRC.
He, said that the appointments of the nominees screened, satisfied the requirements of Section 3 (2) and (3) of the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act, 2010 and the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended.
According to him, the nominees possessed the requisite qualifications, competence, and comportment to discharge the duties and functions of the governing council of NHRC.
Opeyemi said there was no petition against the nominations of any of the nominees before the committee.
“That there are no adverse reports against the nominees, as record checks and other forms of investigations by security agencies, did not reveal any negative trace against them.
” The committee is satisfied with their qualifications, experience, suitability, competence and integrity, to assume the positions of chairman and members of NHRC.
He, however, observed that during the screening the committee was guided by the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the extant law, which established the NHRC.
Opeyemi said Section 14 (3) of the constitution required that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies, should reflect the Federal Character Principles.
“However, it is noteworthy to state that the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission, as presented to the 9th Senate, does not comply with the provisions of the constitution as it relates to the Federal Character Principles.
“That it is imperative to state that absolute compliance with the provisions of the constitution is not a choice, but a fundamental obligation imposed on individuals, Government and all its functionaries, as encapsulated in Section 13 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.”
He urged the Senate to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the lop-sidedness in the composition of the Governing Council of NHRC which was an infraction against the constitution of Nigeria.
“I wish to humbly implore the President of the Senate and indeed, my distinguished colleagues, to approve the recommendation of this committee, on this screening exercise in the National interest, “he said.
The 12 nominees confirmed are Dr Salamatu Suleiman (Chairman), while Joseph Onyemaechi Mmamel, Ahmad Abubakar Fingilla, Kemi Asiwaju-Okenyodo, Abubakar Muhammed; and Femi Okeowo were confirmed as members.
Others are Sunday Etim Daniel, Agabaidu Chukwuemeka Jideani, Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana, Azubuike Nwakwenta; Jamila Isah; and Mrs. Idayat Omolara Hassana.