From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), has stated its determination to fight against continuous marginalisation of original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the scheme of things.
CHRICED Executive Director Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, stated this at a one-day round-table discussion on ‘Access to Justice and Human Rights Protection in Nigeria.’
Zikirullahi pointed out that event was CHRISCED’s initiative to address the decades-long injustices, marginalization and exclusion suffered by the original inhabitants in the FCT since Nigeria’s capital was relocated from Lagos to Abuja.
He said: “One of the most important aspects of this project is for the Original Inhabitants in the FCT to advance their struggles and interests in accordance with the rule of law, justice, and respect for their rights as citizens.
“We must commend the FCT Original Inhabitants for continuing to walk the nonviolent path in bringing attention to the issues that affect them.”
He added that, “if the judiciary, which is often described as the common man’s last hope, issues judgments that are not implemented, where does that leave those in search of justice?
“In the case of the FCT’s Original Inhabitants, several judicial verdicts relating to their rights have been simply ignored or put on hold.
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“Affected citizens are wondering why this is the case, and what is driving what appears to be a new pattern of selective obedience to court orders.
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“Without preempting our learned resource persons’ perspectives, let me state that this roundtable organized by CHRICED provides an opportunity to reflect on these issues of justice and rights protection, particularly through the experiences of the FCT Original Inhabitants.
“For CHRICED, this is not a conversation for the sake of conversation; our interest is in understanding and coming to terms with what needs to be done to ensure justice, equity, and the rule of law prevail.
“Despite the challenges, CHRICED is optimistic that the constructive perspectives presented at this roundtable will put us on the path to finding a solution to these issues.
“It is also our hope that through this initiative, we will be able to address the FCT’s Original Inhabitants’ decades of marginalization, discrimination, and widespread neglect.
“As we have always pointed out, it is one of the many paradoxes of the Nigerian situation that the Original Inhabitants, whose lands were parceled out by Decree 6 of 1976 to make room for Nigeria’s capital, have been neglected, victimized, and treated as second class citizens, right in their ancestral homelands.
“We hope that this interaction will put us on the right track to effectively and constructively reversing this unjust treatment of a people who have made enormous sacrifices for our country’s unity and progress. I wish everyone a productive deliberation.”
He disclosed that, “with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has been supporting Original Inhabitant groups in developing initiatives to address pressing political, socio-economic, and cultural challenges facing the people, foster opportunities for engagement with policymakers, and advocate reforms to promote inclusion, equity, and equality for the Original Inhabitants in FCT.”