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Group seeks synergy to protect human rights, investors’ interest in extractive industry

Nigeria has been urged to be a signatory to the Voluntary Principles Initiative (VPI) as membership of the VPI would demonstrate greater commitment of government to the promotion and protection of human rights and create a more secure environment for potential investors in the extractive sector.

That was part of the recommendations by the Nigerian Working Group (NWG) on Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights at a one-day multi-stakeholder hybrid workshop and dialogue on ‘promoting security and human rights in Nigeria’s extractive sector through multi-stakeholder initiatives’.

The event was organised in Abuja recently for government ministries and agencies, diplomatic community, extractive companies, public security agencies and civil society organisations.

Speaking on ‘the journey so far on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in Nigeria’, Joel Bisina, co-chair, Nigeria Working Group on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, observed that although it was the responsibility of government to promote and protect the wellbeing of citizens, business organisations as responsible entities were also obliged to respect human rights and complement government’s efforts by way of service to humanity.

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Bisina, who is also the executive director, LITE-Africa, said part of the reasons for the workshop was to see “how we can use the VPs as a tool to proffer mutually acceptable solutions to the security and human rights challenges in Nigeria extractive sector.”

In a communiqué issued at the end of the workshop, jointly organised by the Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa) and the Nigeria Working Group (NWG) on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, participants noted among other things that “insecurity and human rights violation have serious implications on the extractive sector and the Nigerian economy.”

According to them, the seeming weak regulation and crude methods of mining employed by artisanal miners have serious health implication and human rights abuse, particularly the right of the child.

“The rising insecurity in form of armed violence and banditry in the North-East and North-West regions of Nigeria has greatly hampered mining operations in those regions.”

The communiqué also noted that the inherent degrading effect of extractive business had multiple implications for human rights and security and that there was increasing inter-cultural conflict over ownership right of extractive sites and rent by local communities.

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