Human Rights Violations In The Niger Delta

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Human rights violations and violent conflicts in the Niger Delta of Nigeria have elicited interests from scholars and international agencies. Although these studies provide significant insights into the conflicts in the Niger Delta, the issue of transitional justice has not been adequately considered. Consequently, this article examines human rights violations and transitional justice mechanisms in the Niger Delta. The article begins with the conceptualization of human rights violation and transitional justice. It then makes an overview of the Niger Delta and the human rights situation in the area. Additionally, the article discusses transitional justice mechanisms and concomitant challenges in the Niger Delta. The key conclusion is that sustainable…show more content…
In spite of the inauguration of a panel (Oputa Panel) to investigate cases of human rights violation in Nigeria by the newly elected civilian government in 1999, the problem persisted. Between 1999 and 2007 several cases of gross human rights violation were recorded. As an antithesis to the inauguration of the Oputa Panel president Obasanjo on November 20, 1999 took a decision which became one of the worst cases of human rights violation in Nigeria. The government in an attempt to track down some youths who were earlier in November 1999 suspected to have abducted and murdered twelve policemen, declared a state of emergency on Odi community. This was done before the expiration of a 14- day ultimatum given by the federal government. On November 20, thousands of combined military personnel attacked the community using sophisticated weapons such as grenade launchers7. The military invasion of Odi community resulted in the death of many people including animals and aquatic creatures. Properties were plundered and virtually all the infrastructure in the community were either destroyed or set on fire. Many citizens of Odi who were fortunate to be alive were taken to military barracks in Elele in Port Harcourt and Warri as prisoners of war8. Odi community was ruins by the time the soldiers were eventually evacuated and replaced with men of the…show more content…
For example after the Human Rights Investigation Tribunal of 1999 submitted completed its investigations the government annulled the report of the Commission stating that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to set up such a tribunal. The federal government cited a Supreme Court decision as a foundation for its decision. This decision withdrew the investigative powers of the Commission and ruled that in the 1999 Constitution the power to establish 'tribunals of inquiry' belonged to the states, not the federal authority45. Consequently the government refused to publish the report and none of the recommendations of the Panel were put into effect. The question that arises is: why should the federal government set up a human rights investigation tribunal when it does not have the jurisdiction? The answer could be related to the problem of adherence to the rule of law in Nigeria. Another reason might be insincerity on the part of the federal government. This is because shortly after setting up the panel, the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo engaged in one of the worst cases of human rights violation in Nigeria when he gave instruction to the armed forces to destroy Odi and Odioma communities in Bayelsa

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