Residents of Delta and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as Imo state lodged the highest number of complaints on rights violations with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2020, a report by the commission has said.

While Delta residents lodged a total of 214,400 complaints, FCT had 148,000 and Imo 106,800.

They are followed closely by Borno, Edo and Abia States with 93,600, 93,600, and 64,000 respectively.

The petitions from the states are among the 1.2 million received by the commission nationwide in a year marked by unusual events, including the devastating disease – COVID-19.

According to the NHRC report exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, women and children faced a heightened risk as the prevalence of gender-based and domestic violence increased due to COVID-19 restrictive protocols and other unprecedented social cum political changes in the year under review.

Sexual and gender-based violence, child rights, women and gender rights violations accounted for 35.5 per cent (445,080) of the 1,287,760 total complaints filed across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.

Leading the pack

According to the NHRC data, Delta State recorded not only the highest number of complaints filed but also the highest complaints on sexual violence, child and women rights violations, as well as brutality by law enforcement agencies in 2020.

The commission received a total 214,400 from the state.

Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, closely tailed Delta on the list of states with serious complaints on women and child rights violations.

While the NHRC received a total of 11,346 and 37,363 complaints on women and child rights violations from Delta in the year under review, Abuja came close with 7,804 and 19,062 complaints on same concerns.

States with the highest complaints of human rights violations

With emphasises on violation of women rights, an official of the commission lamented the level of its incapacitation to nail FCT elites found guilty as a result of slow judicial processes.

“Had it been that the process is as fast as it should be, some prominent persons in Abuja would have been put behind bars for good as a result of unapologetic violation of the rights of their wives and children,” the NHRC official disclosed, asking not to be named because he does not have the authorisation to talk to journalists.

Borno State, bedevilled by the Boko Haram insurgency, is behind Delta State in terms of the number of complaints on sexual and gender-based violence but behind FCT when women and child rights violations are considered.

Residents of Borno State, which became the epicentre of insecurity in the North-east with the advent of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, filed a total of 93,600 complaints on human rights violations in the immediate past year.

Other states

The NHRC office in Imo received a total of 106,800 complaints and a large part of it were filed on SGBV, women and child rights violations in the state.

Edo and Abia also made the top six with 93,600 and 64,000 total petitions filed respectively.

At the bottom

Taraba, Ekiti, Cross River, Osun and Gombe states recorded the least total petitions filed on human rights violations in 2020, the NHRC report shows.

Taraba recorded only 4,672 total complaints, making it the state with the least number of petitions on human rights violations submitted to the NHRC in 2020.

A total of 5,600 complaints were received in Ekiti.

A total of 6,000 complaints were filed in Cross River, followed by Gombe and Osun which had 6,800 and 7,600 petitions respectively.

States with least complaints of human rights violations

Altogether, 26,800 complaints on human rights violations were filed in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, in the year under review.

Speaking on the report, the Director Women, and Children Department National Human Rights Commission, Harry Obe, said the reason Borno is among the states with high figures on violation of women and child rights is not divorced from the conflict in the region.

“Conflict exacerbates already existing challenges. It increases it, a lot of people now get exposed to sexual and gender based violence (violation). We have cases of abduction, rape, sexual exploitation both by the insurgents and people that are meant to protect the community,” Mr Obe told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Some of these things come from the natural excesses of man. We have cases of child marriage, some of them were given out as gifts.

“When there is breakdown of law and order, people do things which they should not be doing with this sense of impunity. We have a skyrocketed report of SGBV in the North-east of conflict and when COVID-19 restrictions came, it further deepened the situation.”

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