Four years after Nigeria’s human rights report was first presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Federal Government will be heading to Geneva in October to present yet another report.
Every nation that is a signatory to the Geneva Convention on human rights is expected to present report every four years. The report must profile human rights situation and what governments and communities are doing to promote the enforcement of universal human rights across the globe.
The last time Nigeria presented country report on human rights was in 2009. But this time around, the Federal Government will have to prepare solid defence for the country’s posture on controversial issues of same-sex marriage and death penalty that run contrary to the Geneva Convention that Nigeria is a signatory to.
In May, Nigeria’s legislators- Senate and House of Representatives members passed a bill prohibiting same-sex marriage across the length and breadth of the country. The bill, which is now awaiting Presidential assent, prescribes up to 14 years jail term for offenders and collaborators.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Cabinet meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan; Minister of information, Labaran Maku recalled that 32 issues bothering on human rights were raised against Nigeria in 2009, noting with delight that 30 had been addressed successfully.
The twin issues of same-sex marriage and death penalty are however still pending. Interestingly, these issues have pitied a couple of developed countries against Nigeria.
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada among others kicked against the passage of anti same-sex marriage. Also, EU and UK condemned the recent execution of some people by Edo state government.
Maku said Council raised a team headed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke to prepare the report which is expected to come up with solid defence for same sex marriage and death penalty, taking into cognizance the Nigerian people’s peculiar culture.
On the contentious issue of same sex marriage, Maku said “we are trying to look into it and see what really position Nigeria will take. But definitely, the problem with same-sex marriage as at now is that both sections of Nigerian society, traditional society, Muslim community, Christian community that virtually make up nearly 100 percent of the Nigerian population are still opposed to the idea of same-sex marriage.
“And in a nation, it is not easy for you to enforce a value that is strange to your own society. We believe that Nigeria should be able to work on its own position particularly that reflects both segments of the Nigerian society. So we have set up a special council committee to again look into these issues so that we can come up with a final report, which will then be forwarded to the United Nations Human Rights Council”.
On the death penalty, the Minister noted, there are “statutes that we need to resolve and it is not only Nigeria, but even the United States and several other countries have not yet abolished death penalty. It is something to be pursued and it is also something that we need time, change in attitude, change in perceptions, and change in laws for these to become reality”.