Odinkalu praises Jonathan for ‘holding institutions in high regard’

During my time at NHRC Jonathan didn’t suppress reports that criticized his administration – Odinkalu

Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has narrated how Goodluck Jonathan, former President, supported the commission even when it produced reports that criticised his government.

Odinkalu made the revelation in an interview with Next Edition, at a time the current federal government has reacted with high-handedness and sometimes brutality to criticism from the people.

On Tuesday, the Nigeria Police Force unleashed its arsenal of dogs, teargas and water canons on peaceful protesters who were calling for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation if he is too ill to continue in office.

During his chairmanship of the NHRC, Odinkalu led investigations into several incidents of human rights abuse by government agencies, including the Nigerian military.

The reports published by the commission at the time include that of serial human rights violations by soldiers taking part in the counter-insurgency operation in the North East, the Apo killings in the FCT, and the killings by herdsmen in Southern Kaduna.

“The job (of the NHRC chairman) required professionalism and I’ve got to give due credit to Goodluck Jonathan,” Odinkalu said.

“Irrespective of the number of things I didn’t agree with him and his government, he supported our programmes and campaigns to the hilt.

“And to the occasion where I had to go tell him that ‘we need your support’ or ‘we want to embark on something,’ he absolutely did give us hundred percent.

“There were occasions where people were very unhappy with me, there were occasions where I had to be fired and I was under investigations for quite many times, although nothing was found, that was okay by him.

“I never met him before I was appointed so I can’t say because he knew me somewhere. He is definitely not from my state or from the same ethnic background. So, I’ve got to give him praise for holding institutions in high regard.



    “We did the Baga investigation against all odds, even in the face of opposition from some members in my own governing council. We did the Apo killings investigation, again in the face of considerable odds, we took on the Southern Kaduna killings and we have the most extensive analytics and reports on what transpired in the North-East.

    “I personally took that to the leadership of the Nigerian government.and I met one-on-one with the then president and I told him, ‘look, we need your full support to do this,’ and he told me to go right ahead.”

    Still, Jonathan continues to receive criticism by many Nigerians, who describe his administration as the weakest and perhaps the most corrupt in the country’s history.

    In one of the fiercest of late, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), said Jonathan was so weak that his wife, Patience, would have made a better president.

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