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The National Human Rights Commission has reiterated the need to for government and relevant stakeholders to protect schools from attack as well as prosecute perpetrators of attack on the nation’s educational institutions at all levels.

In his address at a Multi-Stakeholders Forum on the Safe School Declaration (SSD) which took place in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the Commission Tony Ojukwu Esq emphasised the need to provide non-discriminatory assistance for all survivors of school attack. He noted that attacks on schools and educational facilities experienced in Nigeria have led to the killings and abductions of thousands of learners, teachers and education personnel.

Ojukwu who is also the Chief host of the event decried the various conflicts and crisis experienced across the country, describing the situation as that “which has not only had devastating effects on lives and properties of Nigerians, they have also negatively impacted on the Rights and Access to education”.

The hybrid multi-stakeholders’ forum with participants from other African Countries like Mali and Niger was aimed at fostering dialogue, building alliances and raising awareness of how the Safe School Declaration commitments can support justice and accountability for victims of attacks on education and assistance to survivors.

The human rights Czar said the forum themed; “Making Commitments a Reality: Towards the Abuja Conference” is the pre-event of the forth coming Abuja Conference scheduled for Octber, the first of its kind in Africa he noted. According to Ojukwu, the forth coming Conference is the fourth International Conference on SSD, and will have states; multinational and civil society organizations exchange experiences and present strategies, progress, as well as challenges, in making the commitment to safe education a reality for all children.

Speaking further, the Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria said that the SSD is an affirmative action for safe and accessible education. According to him, 112 UN member states have endorsed and expressed political commitment to ensure the safety of civilians, preservations of the civilian character of educational facilities and the general protection of education from attacks.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Safe Schools Declaration Ratification on the 31st of December 2019, as Nigeria’s commitment to its implementation.

The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education, who was represented by Dr. Udoji Uchenna, reiterated the need to take stock and review progress of SSD by all stakeholders and to proffer solutions to issues and challenges bedevilling safe education for all children.

The Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Mr Marcellino Ansorera stated in his goodwill message, that there has always been a cordial relationship between the Commission and stakeholders especially in the area of education as it affect the rights of the child.

Also adding his voice to the goodwill messages, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria H.E. Mr Lein Knut Eiliv who was represented by the First Secretary, described the attacks, bombings, shelling of schools and universities as gross violation of right to education, adding that victims affected by this conflicts have their access to safe school and education denied.

There were two plenary sessions chaired by the Executive Secretary and moderated by the Director Women and Children of the NHRC, Mr. Harry Obe. The first session addressed access to justice and prosecuting perpetrators of attacks on education. While the second session looked at effective programs and policies to ensure safe school and interventions by all stakeholders to provide support system and assistance for survivors of attacks.

The panellists emphasized community based protection monitoring, where there will be a synergy between community members and law enforcement agencies to fish out perpetrators of school attacks.