By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, and the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, have agreed to work together to expand civic space in the petroleum and solid minerals industries, with NEITI insisting that mismanagement of natural resources is a human rights violation.

This, the agencies said, would enable civil society groups and the media to hold companies operating in the sector and the government accountable for Nigeria’s natural resources.

Speaking during a visit to the NHRC yesterday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji said NEITI considers the mismanagement of oil, gas and minerals resources as violation of human rights.

Dr. Orji who was accompanied on the visit by leaders of civil society groups working in the sector, explained that this “is manifested in term of environmental pollution, climate injustice, violation of host communities’ rights, denial from participation in natural resources management, inequality, revenue and social infrastructures, and in some cases, intimidation and harassment of civil society actors engaging with governance in the sector”.

He noted that NEITI was concerned “about these fundamental human rights issues that usually occur when natural resources are mismanaged and abused. Therefore, the struggle and agitation by civil society actors and media for prudent management of natural resources and protection of civic space in the extractive sector is a natural response by citizens to these abuses”.

He therefore called for a memorandum of understanding between NEITI and NHRC to guide further engagements between the two agencies.

In his response, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu expressed the readiness of the Commission to work with NEITI to protect the rights of those affected by the operations of oil and gas companies, and miners across the country.

Ojukwu who commended NEITI for doing a “marvelous work”, noted that progressive nations “are built on openness and transparency”.

“So, this is another step, which I think if we work it out, and it goes smoothly, it will strengthen the work we are doing. So we are happy to do this. I look forward to the technical committee that can work out the MoU that we can use to operationalise this”, he added.


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