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SERAP drags FG to UN over deaths at NIS recruitment centers

17/03/2014 11:03
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent a petition to UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, requesting him to “use your good offices and leadership to publicly condemn and refer the unlawful deaths and inhuman and degrading treatment of job-seekers by the Nigerian government to appropriate United Nations human rights bodies.”
This is contained in a statement made available by SERAP.
Among the human rights bodies mentioned in the petition are: the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.
The group said, “We believe this is important to achieve international accountability of Nigeria for the violations of the human rights of the job-seekers. By doing this, the Secretary-General will be upholding the values and moral authority of the United Nations and sending a powerful message that the UN will not tolerate fragrant violations of human rights of Nigerians.”
In the petition dated March 17, 2014 and signed by SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said, “Millions of Nigerian children and university graduates continue to be denied the right to work unfairly. Yet, work is important for personal development as well as for social and economic inclusion.
“The unlawful deaths and inhuman and degrading treatment of the job-seekers constitute violations of their rights to life, dignity and work. The case also shows the growing level of economic injustice caused by pervasive corruption and lack of opportunities for Nigerian children to enjoy the right to employment and to gain a living by work, as guaranteed by international and regional human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.
“The Nigerian government in violation of international law has failed and/or neglected to establish conditions for full employment of Nigerian children and university graduates. This situation is not natural and not beyond the control of the government but is caused by high level official corruption, mismanagement and contempt for the rights of the citizens.
“SERAP believes that access to a first job constitutes an opportunity for economic self‑reliance and in many cases a means to escape poverty. Young persons, particularly young women, generally have great difficulties in finding initial employment.”
The group also cited Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to work, to free choice of employment, to protection against unemployment, and to an existence worthy of human dignity. The right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.
The group therefore urged Ki-Moon “to call on the government to urgently adopt legislative, budgetary, administrative and other measures to promote and support access to employment opportunities for young persons, in particular young women and persons with disabilities. All victims and their families should receive adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or a guarantee of non‑repetition.”
The group also said that Ban Ki-Moon is “empowered by Rule 22 of the Provisional rules of procedure adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its third session (1989) to inform the members of the committee questions and violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which is within the mandate of the committee.”
It would be recalled that on March 15, thousands of job‑seekers attended job‑seeking examinations organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Internal Affairs Ministry, in different centres in Nigeria to fill 4,556 vacancies. The government compelled each job-seeker, as an eligibility condition for participating in this hire process, to pay N1,000. There is no evidence that these sums were remitted to the Federation Account as required by law.
In most places, these job‑seeking examinations took place in stadia but no adequate or any arrangements for crowd management and control were put in place. At different centres around the country, including Abuja, Benin, Kano, Minna, and Port‑Harcourt, many job‑seekers, including pregnant mothers, were killed and several others were injured in stampedes due primarily to lack of due diligence and poor arrangements by the government.

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