afenifere wants oputa report
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)


Afenifere Wants Oputa Panel Report Released

Ndubuisi Ugah
Lagos

Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation has called on the Federal Government to expedite action in releasing the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa-led Human Rights Violations and Investigative Panel findings and recommendations, as failure to do that would "expose Nigeria as a banditry state where state power is solely organised to shield criminals".

The group's position, which came barely five years after the panel was inaugurated, said with the release of the Oputa recommendations, President Olusegun Obasanjo would have assuaged the feelings of Nigerians as well as restore the confidence reposed by Nigerians in the ability of the panel to carry out its functions uninhibited.

Afenifere, in a statement signed by 'Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary its, "demands the immediate official release of the Oputa panel's report and its implemendation. This is the only way the Obasanjo government can convince Nigerians that it is not using the state to shield abusers of human liberty".

The group explained that the none release of the panel's report had made Nigerians look at the present administration as not being sincere in its ability to fight human rights abuses in the country.

According to Odumakin, "the unofficial release of the report has helped reasonable people to make some conclusions that the indictment of powerful forces has made the President to eat his words of 'stepping on toes' when he assumed office in 1999".

He stated that "the replication of many of the atrocities of the past between 1999 and now could have made the President conscious of the fact that if past rulers were called to account for the actions, the present would also surely pass".

In view of this, Afenifere said the federal government had no sufficient basis to want to deny Nigerians the release of the panel's report, adding that "but none of the grounds is sufficient to deny the people of Nigeria what they want: Justice. At the core of this is the reality that not punishing the evils of the past is a licence for perpetrators of new acts".

He observed that "the very reason why crime is becoming more prevalent in our society is the slow rate of punishing the guilty. There are many people ready to delete human lives because so many assassinations have remained riddles".

He said "when President Obasanjo set up the panel headed by the highly regarded Jurist, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa in 1999, there was a sense of hope that our own 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' was here at last", a situation he added "explains why many victims of human rights abuses went to the utmost level to make their cases before the panel".

"The panel itself impressed the people the way it conducted the assignment during which it received over 10, 000 petitions and sat in five cities. In the course of this, the nation was regaled with bitter past, sordid acts and woeful tales of man's inhumanity to man.

"The unwary people waited with great expectation for the day of reckoning for those who had used and abused their public offices to violently violate the fundamental liberties of other citizens. They reasoned that a "Daniel" had come to judgement and "crime" and "punishment" would be the order of the day", the statement stated.

The organisation however, expressed sadness at the turn of events, emphasising that "there was no 'Mandela' in the land".

"Three full years after the panel submitted its verdict, the report is gathering dusts at Aso shelves. Many important members of the panel have publicly wondered why President Obasanjo is sitting on the report", Afenifere said.

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