A university don, Professor Dakas C.J Dakas (SAN) yon Tuesday in Abuja scored c’s administration high in the area of protection of fundamental human rights compared to his predecessors.
Dakas, who is the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Jos, stated this while delivering the annual lecture of the Abuja chapter of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents (NAJUC). He spoke on the the theme ‘The Role of the Media in Human Rights Protection.’
While reviewing the human rights regime under the administration of Jonathan, Dakas noted that the present administration had done so well.
He said: “We need to step back and compare the present regime with past administration, especially with past civilian regime.
He said: “The Olusegun Obasanjo regime left a yawning gap in terms of human rights. Recall the administration’s refusal to release funds meant for local government councils in Lagos to the Lagos state government.”
Dakas further pointed out that with the aim of fighting corruption, the Obasanjo’s administration took impeachment of governors to a level of absurdity.
He pointed out that the Obasanjo’s regime was not bad, but added “there are significant improvements under this regime.”
Dakas noted that the amendment and signing into law of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Amendment Act by Jonathan was a plus to the administration’s drive towards protecting human rights.
He recalled that even though, the NHRC was established by the late General Sani Abacha, it was the Jonathan that gave the commission the powers it needed to protect human rights in a democratic setting.
He added that the commission had lived up to its expectation, especially in its decision on the Apo killings where it invited security operatives to defend themselves against allegation of extra-judicial killings.
He further commended the commission for the on going public hearing on unlawful demolition and forceful eviction across the country.
While also commending the administration of Jonathan for passing the Freedom
of Information Bill into law, he expressed regrets that journalists were not using the law as much as they should.
He, however, urged the federal government to go beyond ratification of the convention and domesticate it to create an environment for people to enjoy their socio- political rights.
Dakas however noted that the Jonathan administration had to do more for the citizens to enjoy their rights. He cited the isolated case of some overzealous security operatives who went about confiscating newspapers. He called on the president to call such security operatives to order.
The chairman of the association, Mr Tobi Soniyi, had earlier noted that journalists had the responsibility to expose rights violations for victims to get redress.
“Journalists should remain objectives while reporting human rights violation. Journalists should give facts but not in a manner or with the purpose of creating sensation and to arouse sentiment of the people. Language should be decent and civilized to avoid adding insult to injury.
“As citizens we tend to down play the good things the government has done. In my view, the administration of Jonathan has done well in terms of upholding human rights. I concede though that challenges remain”, he added.
He also noted that despite the fact that the freedom of information law would constitute avoidable intrusion on his government, Jonathan nevertheless signed the FoI Act bill into law showing a high level of commitment to transparency.