The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has disclosed that it received 1,701,519 complaints on rights violations in 2021, the highest so far since its establishment in 1995.
This was disclosed in its statutory report presented at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos which was made available by the NHRC Executive Secretary, Anthony Ojukwu on Wednesday.
According to Ojukwu, the complaints, higher than the 1,287,280 complaints received in 2020, were sent through avenues including the protection departments of its headquarters, and state offices.
The commission while giving reasons for the massive increase in complaints said, “The reduction in the new infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic led to the relaxation of the lockdown and movement restrictions, enabling more people to reach the Commission with their complaints.
“Also, the increased use of social media, the insecurity in the country and increasing awareness of human rights and knowledge of the avenues to claim those rights contributed to the spike.
“The issues that dominated the attention and focus of the Commission throughout the country in 2021 were SGBV (rape and domestic violence); women and gender rights (child custody, denial of access to children); child rights (right to survival and development, child abandonment); judiciary, rule of law and access to justice; quality of life; and freedom from discrimination.”
The report said, “Child rights issues topped the list with 367,440 complaints, while women and gender issues followed with 287,240 complaints. These high figures may be attributable to rising poverty and unemployment occasioned by COVID-19 economic fallouts, which have taken a heavy toll on family life and the erosion of family values. The lowest figures were recorded for rights of the aged (1,880) followed at a far distance by Niger Delta and Environment cases (14,360).
“In the first quarter of the year, 341,997 complaints were received by the Commission while the second quarter recorded 464,800, the highest number of complaints per quarter. A drop to 440,800 was recorded in the third quarter but rose slightly to 453,760 complaints, being the second highest per quarter.
“The states with the most complaints include Rivers (202,040), Kaduna (177,920), Delta (163,360), Imo (136,120), Niger (109,560), Ebonyi (100,400), Lagos (88,720), Sokoto (77,280), Bauchi (69,600), and Kwara (52,680).
“Those with the lowest complaints include Osun (5,320), Abuja (6,600), Ogun (7,480), Borno (7,960), Yobe (8,760), Ekiti (8,840), Benue (9,000), Nasarawa (9,000), Anambra (10,480), and Kebbi (10,920).
“The states with the highest complaints on SGBV include Rivers (18,678), Imo (12,584), Delta (15,102), Niger (10,128), Ebonyi (9,282), Lagos (8,202), Sokoto (7,144), Bauchi (6,434), Abuja (5,846), and Abia (4,911).
“The states with the lowest complaints on SGBV include Osun (492), Abuja (610), Ogun (692), Borno (736), Yobe (810), Ekiti (817), Benue (832), Nasarawa (832), Anambra (969), and Kebbi (1,010).
“On Child Rights, Rivers topped with 43,669 complaints, Kaduna (38,456), Delta (35,309), Imo (29,421), Niger (23,680), Lagos (19,176), Sokoto (16,703), Bauchi (15,043), Abia (11,481), and Kwara (11,386).
“The states below the list include Osun (1,150), Abuja (1,427), Ogun (1,617), Borno (1,720), Yobe (1,893), Ekiti (1,911), Benue (1,945), Nasarawa (1,945), Anambra (2,265), and Kebbi (2,360).
“The lodged complaints were subjected to the rules of admissibility and Rule 72 of the Commission’s STORP which provides a process for determining admissibility or eligibility of complaints.
“Consequently, out of the 1,701,519 complaints received in 2021, a total of 1,697,777 were found admissible, while 3,742 were inadmissible.”
“In the first quarter of 2021, 340,844 were admissible while 1,153 were inadmissible. In the second quarter, 463,385 were admissible while 1,415 were inadmissible. 440,320 were admissible in the third quarter while 642 were inadmissible. The fourth quarter had 453,228 admissible and 532 inadmissible complaints.
“By the end of the year under review,1,187,079 out of the 1,701,357 complaints received in all the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja (Headquarters and the AMO), representing 69.8 per cent, had been investigated and concluded in line with the STORP of the Commission.
“The remaining 514,440 (30.2 per cent) complaints, although not concluded, were ongoing and at various stages of investigation and mediation as of 31st December 2021,” the NHRC said.
“In 1996 when it began operations, it received only 41 complaints which had been rising steadily, albeit, with fluctuations.
“As of December 31, 2021, the aggregate number of complaints received by the Commission from 1996 to 2021 amounts to 8,122,674.
“Of the 8,122,674 complaints, 7,841,561 were admissible, 122,649 inadmissible while 4,696,573 were concluded and 3,148,732 still pending,” the commission said.
Speaking on complaints pending before courts, it said, “The Legal Services and Enforcement Department of the Commission in complementing the activities of the Commission within the year under review had either appeared in court in defence of the Commission or formed out some cases on pro bono basis. Due to fund constraints, the Commission can only collaborate with friends of the Commission like the Nigerian Bar Association to firm out cases on pro bono, whereby only filing fees and other administrative costs are given to lawyers to defend cases for the Commission in court.”