THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS INVESTIGATION COMMISSION OF NIGERIA 20 YEARS AFTER: CHALLENGES, LESSONS AND PROSPECTS

Philip Olayoku's picture

The Information Aid Network (IFAnet) in partnership with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) is convening an international conference in commemoration of two decades after the inauguration of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission of Nigeria in the summer of 2019 between the 19th and 22nd June. The Nigerian State has witnessed different regime transitions in its 56 years of existence. The great expectations and hopes that greeted its independence on October 1st, 1960 was thwarted by corruption, political violence and several military coups resulting in years of instability. The post independent years thus witnessed several intra-state and religious agitations among the over 400 ethnic groups in the country. As with all unstable polities, there have been massive violations of human rights in the forms of unlawful arrests, convictions and incarcerations, sporadic disappearances, destruction of valuable properties, kidnappings and arbitrary killings. These abuses further fanned the embers of mistrust and acrimony among Nigerian citizens who then sought to emphasize what differentiates from the ‘other’. However, the return to democracy in 1999 ushered in new aspirations as the government began the fourth republic with the inauguration of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC), which was modeled after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In inaugurating the seven-man commission chaired by the Late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (rtd), the then President Olusegun Obasanjo charged the commission to reconcile misunderstandings among the different aggrieved and marginalized factions in order to move the country forward. The commission, well received by Nigerians, was religiously monitored through the televised public hearings, which sought to reconcile both the victims and the perpetrators. Nevertheless, two decades after the conclusion of these public hearings, Nigerians have remained divided on the importance, impact and gains of the HRVIC. This conference is thus designed to bring academics, public analysts, lawyers, researchers, public office holders, media practitioners, civil society advocates, non-governmental organizations, government parastatals and agencies, international organizations and the Nigerian public together to take stock of the challenges, prospects and gains of the commission. It poses important questions such as: How has the Nigerian state benefitted from the commission? What happened to the recommendations of the commission? How effective was the implementation committee? What cues can be taken for national unity and ethnic integration?  Consequently, IFAnet is soliciting for paper presentation and roundtable proposals from intending participants on the following areas:

  1. Reconciliation, restoration and restitution
  2. Non Adversarial mechanisms for conflict resolution
  3. Peacebuilding and development
  4. Memory and nation building
  5. Prevention of human rights violations
  6. Truth telling and national unity
  7. The role of the state in post conflict peacebuilding
  8. Civil society organizations and human rights
  9. The Media and framing in post conflict contexts
  10. Mechanisms for justice in post conflict communities
  11. The role of women in national unity and reconciliation
  12. Youths and conflict transformation
  13. The HRVIC and Ife Modakeke Crisis
  14. The role of the HRVIC and the Ogoni Clean Up
  15. The Nigerian Military and the HRVIC
  16. Mechanisms for combatting militancy and terrorism in Nigeria
  17. Amnesty and the Resurgence of Militancy in the Niger Delta

Intending participants are expected to submit a 250 word abstract to the conference secretariat through the following email address conference@ifanet.org by January 15, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified by February 15, 2019.

A Special Roundtable on the Project ‘Proffering Solutions to Methodological Questions on developing a Curriculum for Teaching and Implementing Transitional Justice in Africa will be convened by Sola Olorunyomi, PhD and Philip Olayoku, PhD.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers at the event include:

Most Rev Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah (Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Member -HRVIC and Author, Witness to Justice: An Insider's Account of Nigeria's Truth Commission)

Mr John Ikubaje (Deputy Head, Human Rights and Transitional Justice Unit, African Union Commission)

Dr Amina Salihu (Chair Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board, Senior Programme Officer MacArthur Foundation)

 

The Opening Ceremony of the Conference will take place at the International Conference Centre at the University of Ibadan while venue for the other sessions will be the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. The other keynote addresses can take place at the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.

 

RSVP

Mr Joshua Olufemi                                       Mr Akin Tella                        Ms Adejoke Adetoro

Premium Times Center                        Lecturer, Department of English        Department of History

For Investigative Journalism               University of Ibadan                           University of Ibadan

joshua@ptcij.org                                         morakstell@yahoo.ca                              adejokeiyabadan@gmail.com

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