By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday told the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, UNCHR, that the government would not allow the over two million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to go to their various homes as the atmosphere was not conducive for them to live.
The Speaker also said Nigeria was committed to the protection of rights of IDPs, and was working on domestication and ratification of the UN Kampala Treaty on the rights of refugees.
Dogara stated this when he received a delegation from the UNCHR in his office, even as he told the guests that the House of Representatives was putting all legislative structures in place to ensure that the rights of IDPs were protected at all times.
Dogara in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, said efforts were in top gear by the relevant committees to conclude all work on the document and submit it in plenary for further legislative action.
“The bill for the proposed North East Commission and the Kampala Commission are before the commission and sooner or later, the report will be brought before the House in plenary for consideration and hopefully we’ll pass it and in no distant time, it will be ratified,” he said.
He also informed the delegation that the House, in recognition of the plight of IDPs and the need for their rehabilitation and resettlement, and to find lasting solutions to the problem, set up a committee that was in charge of IDP related issues, as well as passing a bill to set up the North-East Development Commission.
He further told the team that it was not acceptable for the over two million displaced persons to be asked to return to their communities until the causative factors were sorted out and security provided in the affected areas.
He said: “There is no way we can do that unless we bring the conflict to an end and it makes no sense, absolutely no sense, for anybody to insist that people displaced should go back to their communities, knowing that chances are there that they may be attacked and then the conditions that gave rise to the crisis are not totally eliminated.”
The speaker also noted that there was no way that democracy could thrive if the lives of citizens were not secure.
“As it is said, democracy is a promise that deals with life and the pursuit of happiness. All other promises of democracy cannot come through unless there is life so that is the most important promise of democracy,’’ he said.
Earlier, leader of the UNHCR delegation and Assistant High Commissioner in charge of protection of rights of refugees and IDPs, Mr Volke Turk, urged the speaker to expedite action on the domestication and ratification of the UN convention on the protection of the rights of refugees in the House of Representatives.