The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) says that the mismanagement of extractive revenues and other infractions in the country’s extractive sector is a violation of human rights.
Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary, NEITI, stated this in Abuja when he led a delegation of board, management of the agency and a coalition of civil society advocates in Nigeria’s extractive sector on a courtesy call to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Orji, in a statement on Sunday by Mrs Obiageli Onuorah, Head, Communications and Advocacy, NEITI, said lack of transparency and accountability in the management of extractive revenues could lead to many social vices which results in rights violation.
“NEITI considers mismanagement of oil, gas and minerals resources as a violation of human rights.
“This is manifested 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 infrastructure,” he said.
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.
Orji said that under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Standard 2019, government was bound to protect its citizens rights, media and civil society actors engaging in advocacy for transparency and accountability in management of 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,” Orji said.
He said that the protection of civic space is of great concern to NEITI as well as the Global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
According to him, 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,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC), Mr Anthony Ojukwu SAN, expressed delight at the collaboration between NEITI and the NHRC on relationship management with civil society.
Ojukwu reminded NEITI that the mandate of the NHRC centres on the protection of the citizenry who are carrying out their legitimate activities.
“NEITI is a credible organisation and I am happy to identify with an institution that is at the centre 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 said.
The Civil Society Representative on NEITI Board, Mr Peter Egbule, reiterated the importance of assuring civil society actors of the safety and protection of their space to enhance good governance of the country’s extractive sector.
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The National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, Mr Taiwo Otitolaye, expressed optimism that NEITI’s doggedness and determination to lead efforts to strengthen civic space in the extractive sector in Nigeria would yield the desired results. (NAN)