By Lucky Isibor,
The Director of the Justice Development/ Peace Caritas Commission, JDPC in the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, Rev. Fr. Benedict Onwugbenu has called on Nigerian youths to step forward and take their place in the scale of things in the society adding that is the time their voice should be heard.
Rev. Fr. Onwugbenu who urged members of the society to always bear in mind that the youth is the fruitful future of the country stated this while addressing journalists at the Edo State Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, at the press centre while on a road work as part of activities to mark this year’s International Human Rights Day.
The clergyman declared that this year’s celebration with the theme: Youths Standing up for Human Rights, “is designed to encourage, galvanise and showcase how youth all over the world stand up for their rights and fight against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination and climate change.”
According to him, “this year is aimed at celebrating the potential of youths as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices and engage a broad range of audience in the promotion and protection of rights.”
While lamenting the neglect, social deprivations, economic deprivations the youths have suffered in recent times, the JDPC Director said, “today the youths have suffered great neglect and this is seen in the way our prisons are congested due to crimes, although some of them are Innocent thus suffering imprisonment unjustly. Also in recent times, youths have become victims of human trafficking and illegal migration and this is as a result of the poor economy, lack of job opportunities and many more. In this process many of them have suffered abuse of different degree even in the hands of the agents of state.”
He reiterated the teachings of the Catholic Church in the protection of human dignity, preferential treatment for the poor and vulnerable in the society, the dignity of work and the rights of workers adding that a healthy community can only be achieved if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.
In a good will message on the occasion the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu assured of the commission’s determination to protect the rights of Nigerians and foreign nationals resident in the country.
Ojukwu who was represented by Osaheni-Okoro C Ifunanya, Principal Investigation Officer with the National Human Rights Commission, Edo State office said.
“Let me reiterate the commitment of the Commission as an apex human rights institution in the country to provide the expected leadership and platform for dialogue, policy direction and agenda setting in the realization of human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians resident in the country. This is our contract with the people and government of Nigeria and we shall not relent in the pursuit of this enterprise.
Emphasising the the Imperatives of the theme of this year’s celebration , Ojukwu said, “the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights’ is imperative given the increasing population of young persons in the country and the need to collectively ensure that youth participate actively in decision making to enable them contribute meaningfully to nation building.
“The youthful energy of the young people should be positively utilized and channeled into national development and that can only happen when they are assisted to live their rights and realize their potentials in life.
“In our efforts to comprehensively tackle the emerging human rights concerns, we thought it expedient to maximize our human rights education and promotion to ensure firstly, that Nigerians at least know their rights and also appreciate the need to seek redress from appropriate institution such as the Human Rights Commission, the Public Complaints Commission, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, as the case may be”.