By Bassey Udo
The mismanagement of revenues and other infractions in the country’s extractive sector is a gross violation of human rights, the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji stated this in Abuja when he led a delegation of the NEITI Board, management and a coalition of civil society advocates in Nigeria’s extractive sector to visit the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anthony Ojukwu.
Orji noted that lack of transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industry revenues could lead to many social vices which result in the violation of the rights of the citizens.
The Executive Secretary said NEITI considers mismanagement of revenues from oil, gas and minerals resources as a violation of human rights.
This, he said, was manifesting in terms of environmental pollution, climate injustice, violation of host communities’ rights, denial of participation in the natural resources management, inequity in benefits sharing, revenue and social infrastructures, and in extreme cases, intimidation, and harassment of civil society advocates.
He called for a Memorandum of Understanding and the establishment of a technical committee between NEITI and the NHRC to work out modalities for the partnership to promote effective protection of the environment.
Under the global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative EITI Standard 2019, Orji said it was the duty of the government to protect the rights of its citizens, media and civil society actors engaging in the campaign and advocacy for transparency and accountability in the management of our oil, gas, and mining resources.
“This commitment is part of the requirements of the 2019 EITI Standard and Civil Society Protocol, which must be followed by all member countries. These rights include freedom of expression; assembly; association and access to public decisions and information in the extractive industries”. The Executive Secretary noted.
The protection of civic space, Orji said, was of great concern to NEITI as well as the Global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
, “NEITI has therefore identified the NHRC as a sister agency that it can partner with to grant protection to those engaging in the sector.
“We are here to seek collaboration, support and discuss the partnership between our two agencies and put in place mechanisms for the protection of civic space, including the rights of non-state actors that are engaging in the extractive sector”. The NEITI boss reiterated.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anthony Ojukwu SAN, expressed delight at the collaboration between NEITI and the NHRC on relationship management with civil society.
He reminded NEITI that the mandate of the NHRC centers on the protection of the citizenry who are carrying out their legitimate activities.
“NEITI is a credible organization and I’m happy to identify with an institution that is at the center of efforts aimed at pushing the frontiers of good governance. I have followed the achievements and impacts of NEITI in the governance of the extractive industry. I believe that the protection of civic space is an initiative we can work together to strengthen”, Ojukwu affirmed.
The Chairman of the Civil Society Representatives on the NEITI Board, Peter Egbule reiterated the urgency and importance of assuring civil society actors of the safety and protection of their space which will enhance and facilitate good governance of the country’s extractive sector.
National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, Taiwo Otitolaye expressed optimism that NEITI’s doggedness and Executive Secretary to lead efforts to strengthen civic space in the extractive sector in Nigeria would yield the desired results.