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Human Rights Commission seeks strict legislation to ban cultism in schools

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

The commission suggested that the legislation be made in such a way that it will not affect the rights of the 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 Hillary Ogbona, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, SAN while presenting the monthly human rights dashboard on abuses for the month of April.

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

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 behaviour and other bizarre and illegal activities, not only pose a grave threat to peace and security but also pose a significant challenge to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by affected communities.

He said the NHRC 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 the 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 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 April.

Ogbona called on governments at all levels to rise to their responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens of the country, saying, “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 and 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, saying the agency 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 words, “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, and authorities to gain insight on the status of human rights in Nigeria “.

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