The Federal Government has inaugurated the re-constituted National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) in Abuja today, Friday 9th September, 2022. While inaugurating the Committee, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, recalled that the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) was established on 28th September 2009 as part of national mechanisms designed to fulfil Nigeria’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). He noted further that Nigeria signed UNCAT in 1988 and ratified same in June 2001.
However, Malami revealed that aside the fact that not much had been accomplished by the previous Committee since its inauguration in 2009, it is also sadly on record that the Committee was unable to establish proper official communication or engagement with the International Body UNCAT. “It is as a result of these shortcomings and others that I approved the dissolution of the previous NCAT, with a view to reconstituting and reinvigorating the Committee with members with requisite capacity and experience to deliver and provide institutional support towards actualizing Nigeria’s international obligations under UNCAT”. The Minister further revealed.
Malami used the opportunity to re-affirm Nigeria’s commitment and dedication to eliminating torture and providing support for victims. He opined that acts of torture undoubtedly surrender the moral authority of the government, and also undermines its legitimacy. “As a step towards tackling the menace of torture in Nigeria, the membership of this Committee has been drawn from relevant Security and Law Enforcement Agencies, development partners and Civil Society Organizations, to provide a robust and comprehensive response to the incidence of torture, in line with our international obligations. I therefore charge this Committee to carry out its mandate with full and unwavering dedication so that we can collectively eliminate all forms of torture”. Malami further stated.
Terms of Reference of the re-constituted NCAT is engaging and liaising with Committee against Torture (CAT) and regional human rights mechanisms in the context of country reporting, interactive dialogue or facilitation of visits by special procedure mandate holders or the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and organizing and facilitating the preparation of reports to CAT and regional human rights mechanisms, and of responses to communication, follow up questions and recommendations or decisions received from such mechanisms among others. He reminded the committee of a pending deadline of 3rd December, 2022 for preparation and submission of its reports to UNCAT.
In her remarks, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Chairman, on behalf of the Alternate Chairman and members of the Committee thanked the HAGF for his foresight and exemplary leadership in reconstituting the Committee and providing necessary support to enable it achieve its responsibilities. She assured the HAGF of the committee’s commitment towards satisfactorily implementing the terms of reference, particularly with respect to providing timely statutory reports as required under UNCAT and working with renewed vigour towards fighting against the scourge.
Speaking, the Ekiti State Attorney General, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda who represented the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) expressed gladness at the HAGF’s swift response to some of the concerns that were mentioned by the Committee as a result of a lot of issues raised against torture in Nigeria at the Geneva Meeting last year. He stated that the re-constitution of the Committee membership was impressive. He also solicited for additional representatives and more engagement of members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Mr. Fapohunda thanked the HAGF for the initiative while giving assurance of the NBA’s support to achieving the Committee’s Terms of Reference and submission of the report at the end of the year.
Members of the Committee were drawn from Federal Ministry of Justice, National Human Right Commission, Nigeria Police Force, Legal Aids Council, Nigeria Correctional Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Department of State Services, the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Bar association among others.