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Members of the 5th Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission has pledged their commitment to take the Commission to the next level, saying that that the Council will prioritize the protection of the rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country, as well as the welfare of the staff.

The Chairperson of the Governing Council, Dr. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman who stated this at the retreat the Governing Council/Management of the NHRC in Abuja noted that the Government Council Members are poised to work effectively with stakeholders to ensure that the issue of human rights protection takes the front seat in the country.

She also stressed the need for adequate budgetary allocation to the Commission even as she solicited the mutual respect for the decisions and directions of the Commission by the three arms of the Government for the smooth functioning of the Commission.

In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq. declared that the retreat of the Governing Council/Management is designed to give a heads start on the assignment before the newly inagurated Governing Council Members to ensure that they work effectively with the Management towards making tremendous impacts on human rights protection in Nigeria.

The Chief Human Rights Officer observed that retreat of this nature from time to time will be key to performance improvement for the Council and Management.

According to Ojukwu, "a retreat of this nature is key to understanding the operations of the Commission and setting our priorities right which is inevitable to the smooth and focused operations of the Commission".

Some of the key issues that will be dealt with in the retreat, the Executive Secretary noted include structure and strategy, institutional and procedural framework, performance improvement and reforms, human rights promotion and agenda setting and other related and sundry issues.

In his keynote remarks, the Chairman of the opening session, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele observed that "as we approach the election year, several human rights challenges will also arise and the Commission must stand on the side of the Constitution to defend the rights of the people".

Senator Bamidele who is also the Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters said that his Committee has reviewed the enabling Act of the Commission to harmonize it for more effectiveness, adding that very soon the amendment Act will be presented for a 3rd and final reading before passage.

Besides, the lawmaker disclosed that the National Assembly is taking steps to amend the Constitution with regard to incorporating the Commission as a constitutional body and resourcing it through the Human Rights Fund, pointing out that when these initiative are concluded the Commission will be further entrenched and strengthened legally to fulfill its enabling mandate.

He used the opportunity to commend the Management Staff of the Commission who he noted had performed excellently well in the absence of a Governing Council before the recent inauguration of the 5th Governing Council.

There were several goodwill messages from Legal Aids Council, Attorney General of the Federation, National Judicial Institute, Chief of Defense Staff, Inspector General of Police, Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies, Executive Director NANHRI, Country Representative, UNDP, Country Director, MacArthur Foundation, Executive Director, OSIWA, Acting Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation and all were united in their commitment to partner with the Commission to improve human rights protection in Nigeria.

The 4-day retreat will end on Thursday 15th September, 2021.