Commission advocates legislation to ban cultism in Schools

Charles Ogba, Abuja

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has advocated for a strict legislation to ban cultism in educational institutions across Nigeria

However, the commission emphasized that any such legislation should not undermine the students’ right to form societies and organizations that promote human rights and intellectual diversity.

The commission made this known during the  presentation of the April Edition of the Human Rights Dashboard on Human rights abuses in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.

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

During the presentation of the dashboard, the Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Hillary Ogbanna, highlighted the impact of cultism, revealing that there had been over 20 deaths in April, 2024 related to cultism across three states in Nigeria.

He said that 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 loss of innocent lives, shattered families and devastated communities as cultists operate with impunity” he said.

The dashboard indicated that in April, there were 211 killings, with bandits accounting for 82 of them, and 99 recorded incidents of kidnapping, with the North-West region having the highest number of 74. Additionally, 13 security and law enforcement personnel were killed in April 2024.

In addition to the increase in cult-related deaths, the dashboard presented a concerning trend of human rights complaints, mass killings, attacks on media freedom, violence against law enforcement and armed forces, and a surge in cases of violence against children and minors.

Ogbona called on government at all levels  to rise up to their responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens of the country, saying that, “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 adding that relevant authorities should ensure that schools and streets are safe for the people.”

Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of the commision, Tony Ojukwu  expressed the Commission’s commitment to making accessible, information on human rights and 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.

 “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, authorities to gain insight on the status of human rights in Nigeria, ” he added

 

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