Human Rights Commission seeks strict legislation to ban cultism in schools

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for a strict legislation to ban cultism in the country’s institutions of learning.

Apparently worried by the menace of cultism in the Nigeria, the commission said, the legislation should be made in such a way that it will not affect the rights of student population in forming societies and organisations that promote human rights as well as intellectual curiosity and diversity.

The position of the Commission was made known on Friday in Abuja by Mr. Hillary Ogbona, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu (SAN) while presenting the monthly human rights dashboard on human rights abuses for the month of April.

He said the issue in focus in the month of April was cultism, saying that, over 20 cultism related deaths in three states of the Federation were recorded.

According to the Commission, cultism, especially in higher institutions of learning has remained a long-standing menace in the country, pointing out that the secret society movements rooted in violence, intimidation, criminal behavior and other bizarre and illegal activities, not only pose grave threat to peace and security, but also pose a significant challenge to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by affected communities.

The NHRC, he said is committed to addressing the issue with a firm commitment to protecting and promoting human rights.

“The right to life and security which should be protected by the state faces significant threats in a society plagued by cultism. Cult-related violence leads to loss of innocent lives, shattered families and devastated communities as cultists operate with impunity.

The dashboard also showed that a total of 2011 killings were recorded in the month of April out of which, 82 are attributed to bandits alone, while 99 cases of kidnapping were recorded with North -West region leading with 74 in April and added that, 13 security and law enforcement agents were also killed in the month of April.

Ogbona called on government at all levels to rise up to their responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens of the country, saying that, “The cycle of violence perpetuated by cultism erodes trust and undermines the right to a secure and peaceful society.

“We also call on all security agencies to step up protection of human life in line with the provision of Section 4(2)(b) of the Constitution”, he said and that, relevant authorities should ensure that schools and streets are safe for the people.

Speaking earlier, the NHRC boss, Tony Ojukwu SAN expressed the Commission’s commitment to making accessible, information on human rights and will continue to cooperate with government at all levels, civil society, media, international development partners towards the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights in Nigeria.

He said the dashboard will assist the government in keeping track of its obligations to national, regional and international human rights instruments and mechanisms.

In his word, “We have been rendering this report to the National Assembly and the government of Nigeria on an annual basis and this document has been a reference material accessible to all interested persons, authorities to gain insight on the status of human rights in Nigeria “.

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