February 18, 2021

Ostracisation: NHRC threatens sanctions against Ebonyi communities


By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has threatened to mete out penalties against ostracization of Persons in Ebonyi communities and other parts of the country.

A member of the Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Mr Abdulrahman Yakubu who disclosed this recently while chairing the Panel in Ebonyi state on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, assured Nigerians that perpetrators of the discriminatory act would face the law.

According to the Human Rights Defender, “the idea of ostracising some members of the community upon some flimsy excuses such as defaulting in payment of community levies runs contrary to the Constitution of Nigeria as well as relevant regional and internàtional Conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory”.

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He stated that “there are better and lawful procedures for addressing issues, involving deviant members of the society, which ostracization cannot be an option”.

Yakubu who is also a member of the Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct SARS also decried the torture, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out to some women in Amasiri Community of Afikpo North local government Area of Ebonyi State by the Chief, members of his cabinet and the town crier.

One of the women who suffered the degrading treatment said that they refused to cooperate with the leadership of the community in confiscating and selling people’s land which did not go down with the headship of the area and the same resulted in their being ostracised by the rest of the community members.

The embattled women testified before the NHRC panel that they were stopped from using the social amenities in the community including the only government dug borehole water and that they were also cut off from electricity supply despite belonging to the community.

Besides, they ostracised women alleged that the Chief and his cohorts levelled their farmlands, while their children were flogged and chained in some cases and that they could not defend themselves or feel free in the community because they were denied freedom of movement and association.

One of the respondents, who identified himself as the town crier of the community conceded that some women were actually ostracised by the leadership of the community even though he claimed ignorance of the reason for their ostracisation.

According to the town crier, he was only instructed by the Chief of the community to invite members of the Chief’s ruling council which he did and without staying back to listen to the discussions that led to the said ostracization of the women.

Of the 12 cases that were brought before the panel, 9 were concluded, 2 were referred to NHRC Ebonyi state Office and one was referred to the Cross Rivers sitting coming up in the first week of March 2021.

He also commended the Ebonyi state government and the Commissioner of Police for acting on the directive of the panel to ensure the appearance of some respondents before the panel who had in the past ignored invitations by the Commission’s Office in Ebonyi state.

He, therefore, urged them to continue to cooperate with the Commission in the state so that addressing human rights issues will be seamlessly done in the state.

Vanguard News Nigeria