On Friday 26th July 2023, Stakeholders Alliance for Cooperate Accountability (SACA) organized a 1-day event to validate Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) tool in Nigeria. The HRDD tool was specifically designed for community impact assessment to help businesses identify and analyze existing and potential human rights risks in communities that may hinder or is already obstructing their operations, with a view to integrating and acting on findings. The essence is to prevent/reduce human rights risks and mitigate adverse impacts as recommended in the United Nations Guiding Principle (19).
This event held at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Onopa, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Fifty (50) participants from federal ministries and agencies, national security formations, state ministries, traditional rulers and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) reviewed and adopted the HRDD tool as a national tool for community impact assessment.
Those that attended the event from the federal ministries and agencies were the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the Federation who was represented by Mrs. Chinelo Iriele, the Deputy Director, Citizens’ Rights Department in Federal Ministry of Justice; the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), represented by Mrs. Mary Pwadumdi Okoh, the Deputy Director Legal, and Desk Officer of Business and Human Rights; the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, represented by the Principal Geologist, Mr. Rufai Abdulmalik; the Controller of Federal Ministry of Environment in Bayelsa State, Aleibiri Amatari, and the Director General of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), represented by Barr. Titilayo Zozoma Baiyelo, the Assistant Director Legal Services, NOSDRA.
The Bayelsa State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) attended the event amongst the four national security formations in Bayelsa State that were invited. The State NSCDC Commandant was represented by Deputy Commandant Ndubuisi Lawrence, Head of Critical Assets and Infrastructure, Bayelsa State.
State participants included the Honourable Commissioner of Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Waripamo Martin Amaitari, and the Honourable Commissioner of Bayelsa State Ministry of Mineral Resources, represented by the Senior Scientific Officer, Aladdin Oweilayefa.
The Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo (Agada IV), the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom; HRH David Osene Osene of Elebele Community; women, youths and other community representatives were present.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Bayelsa State Islamic Affairs, several CSOs, the media and members of Human Rights Due Diligence Committee attended the event.
In a keynote address delivered by Mr. Eugene Barikpeg Baadom, State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Bayelsa State, and Chairman of the National Human Rights Due Diligence Committee, he noted that the committee is currently creating awareness on human rights, Cooperate Social Responsibility, due diligence principles, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights, in Bayelsa State.
Stakeholders, while delivering goodwill messages commended SACA and all team members of the Human Rights Due Diligence Committee for the initiative.
The Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the Federation, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, the Bayelsa State Honorable Commissioner of Environment, and the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council delivered goodwill messages.
- The Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the Federation commended the initiative and avowed that “…the Human Rights Due Diligence Tool on environmental and social arena is coming up at such a time the Ministry is gearing up efforts to further accentuate and deploy human and material resources towards actualization of our human rights dictates of the 1999 constitution (As Amended)…there is no doubt in my mind that this tool…will in no small measure help the nation to nurture and promote an environment conducive for the conduct of legitimate businesses in our dear nation, Nigeria”.
- The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission held that “The NHRC recognizes that businesses play crucial roles in advancing sustainable development and contributing to the well-being of society. However, it is imperative that these contributions are made in a manner that respects and upholds human rights principles. The HRDD tool being validated today provides a framework for companies to assess, prevent, mitigate, and address any adverse human rights impacts resulting from their activities”.
- The Bayelsa State Honorable Commissioner for Environment appraised the initiative and posited that the Ministry of environment will monitor the implementation of the Human Rights Due Diligence Tool to ensure a cleaner and pollution free environment.
- The Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers hoped that the HRDD tool will curb the Human Rights abuses that have been trailing the activities of the oil and Gas companies in Bayelsa State and Niger Delta region at large. He posited that the initiative will be great if victims will get justice when the tool detects human rights abuses.
The National tool was guided by internationally approved principles and materials from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia and Nigeria, and the Danish Institute of Human Rights.
The four Barristers in the Human Rights Due Diligence Committee (HRDDC) and the Executive Director of SACA presented different sections of the tool.
- Bulodisiye Okumoko Esq. presented the Environmental Impact section.
- Mr. Goselle Nimnan Vining Esq. presented Land Acquisition, Lease and Use, and Social Impact
- Sarah Akomaye Esq. presented the Indigenous People
- Selekere Douye Esq. presented Community Engagement and Consultation/Community Grievance Mechanism.
- Mr. Kingsley Ozegbe, the Executive Director of SACA, presented the Severity of Human Rights Abuse Priority.
Participants had three plenary sessions and issued communique at the end of the event.