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Amnesty International faults Yar’Adua’s package

By  Ise-Oluwa Ige
Amnesty International yesterday dismissed as misplaced priority the amnesty package offered by the Federal Government to the Niger Delta militants.

It argued that it would not yield the desired result.

The organisation yesterday also flayed the government over the abuse of human rights of Niger Delta people by oil companies that the government cannot or will not hold to account.

It singled out Shell Petroleum as a major culprit.

Amnesty International is an international group that monitors human rights situation across the globe.

Amnesty International spoke on a day the National Human Rights Commission said it had behan moves to raise at least N1billion to engage most of the human rights violators including the multi-nationals in legal tussle.

Its Executive Secretary, Mr Rowland Ewubare, said one of the reasons why the government had not been able to hold Shell accountable of its misdeed is because powerful Nigerians or and government are into joint venture with the it.

A researcher with the international rights group, Audrey Gaughan, who spoke on the issue of rights abuse in Abuja yesterday argued that the amnesty package offered by the government would shield all those who abused human rights during the crisis to escape prosecution.

He listed these people to include members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) sent by the Federal Government to maintain peace in the region and the militants.

N50billion has been earmarked by the government to make peace in the region.

In the proposal submitted to the Federal Government by the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta, the state governors in the Niger Delta region are  expected to compile the list of militants who seek to take advantage of Mr. President’s reprieve and forward same through the Federation Attorney-General to the Presidency.

But the rights group yesterday dismissed the package as misplaced priority, saying the government should have invested heavily in the region instead of implementing the said package.

Gaughan said the package won’t work.

Speaking specifically why President Yar’Adua’s approach in the name of amnesty would be a fluke, the rights group observed, ”because human rights violations in the past was not addressed.”

He criticised the oil multinationals, particularly the Shell Petroleum, Gaugharan for their rights abuses.

responsible corporation, Shell continues to directly harm human rights through its failure to adequately prevent and mitigate pollution and environmental damage in the Niger Delta.

“Shell and other companies also do no adequate monitoring of –or disclosure of information on –human impacts of oil operations. “Communities in the Niger Delta frequently do not have access to even basic information about the impact the oil industry has on their lives –even when they are the ‘host’ community.

“This lack of information feeds fears and insecurity within communities, contributes to conflict and fundamentally undermines human rights,” she added.

The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission [NHRC], Barr. Rowland Ewubare who moderated the session stated his readiness to raise a pool of funds to hire the best lawyers towards prosecuting oil companies who have become recalcitrant when it comes to abuse of human rights in the region.

Specifically, he observed that dragging the defaulting oil companies to court and securing damages against them would serve as a deterrent to the escalating oil spillages in the area that has damaged both flora and fauna hence rendering the fishing and farming population in the area unemployed.


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