By the general consent of delegates across the country and consistent with the COVID-19 Protocols, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) virtually held its National Council (NC) meeting on the Zoom Platform.

Delegates from State Branches, members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and 3 Ex-Officio members, constituting the statutory members of National Council (NC) of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), under the leadership of the President, Comrade (Dr) Osagie Obayuwana, as well as the entire members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) under the leadership of its Chairman, Comrade Femi Falana, SAN, who were present to deliver a Report, converged virtually on the Zoom Platform and held the National Council (NC) Meeting on 30th January, 2021. The meeting was to receive from the BOT, consider and deliberate on the findings and recommendations and pass necessary resolutions on the Report of the Board of Trustees with respect to the crises in Delta State Branch and Lagos State Branch, as well as acts of indiscipline and gross misconduct by some members of the National Executive Committee (NEC).

The meeting commenced as Council deliberated and adopted a robust agenda, which included, but not limited to: Accreditation/Roll Call, Adoption of Agenda, President’s Welcome Address, Presentation of B.O.T Report (with respect to the crises in Delta and Lagos State Branches as well as acts of indiscipline and gross misconduct by some members of the National Executive Committee), Adoption of BOT Report by National Council, Deliberations and Comments (on the findings and recommendations), Resolutions, A.O.B (which included Election of Ex-Officio Members of National Council and Filling of Vacancies in National Executive Committee), President’s Closing Remarks and Adjournment.

The President, Comrade (Dr.) Osagie Obayuwana presided over the meeting while the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Comrade Femi Falana, SAN, presented the Report of the BOT tagged: Restoring the Integrity of the CDHR: the Issues Arising from Delta and Lagos Branches and NEC. Other members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) who were also present at the virtual meeting included Prof Lucky Akaruese (former President), Olugbenga Awosode (former President), Malachy Ugwummadu (former President) and Debo Adeniran (founding General Secretary).

Presenting his Welcome Address, the President, Comrade (Dr.) Osagie Obayuwana appreciated the enduring commitment of members to the survival of CDHR. He appreciated the Board of Trustees for their resilience and dedication to the survival of the Organization. The President admonished members of CDHR against acts of indiscipline and misconduct that could undermine and subject the Organization to disrepute with the negative effect of frustrating the programmes and aspirations of the Organization and its esteemed members. He lamented the negative developments in CDHR as distraction that has disrupted the running of the National Executive Committee.

Comrade Femi Falana, SAN, Chairman of BOT, formally presented the BOT Report and same was adopted by the National Council in session. Within the context of the theme of the BOT Report and in consideration of the state of the Organization, particularly in relation to the acts of indiscipline and gross misconduct of some members of the National Executive Committee, which have regrettably exposed the Organization to disrepute and scorn, delegates have considered and deliberated on the findings and recommendations of the BOT, and UNANIMOUSLY passed the following resolutions:

       i.        That the following individuals should be and were EXPELLED from CDHR:

      a)    Tiaga Kehinde, former Vice President

b)    James Chikwendu, former General Secretary

c)    Gerald Katchy, former Publicity Secretary

d)    Jonathan Giama, former Secretary of the Delta State Branch 

    ii.            That the following members of the National Executive Committee should be and were accordingly SUSPENDED from                   CDHRfor one (1) year

                a)    Barr (Mr.) Violet Ekumankuma, the Legal Adviser

b)    Ayuba Musa, the Internal Auditor 

iii.    That Roy Michael Olokungboye, the former purported Chairman of the Lagos State Branch, should be and was                          accordingly SUSPENDED from CDHR for two (2) years. 

   iv.        That the following members of the Delta State Branch should be and were accordingly REPRIMANDED/CAUTIONED 

a)    Comrade Israel Joe

b)    Harrison Itula 

    v.        That 3 Ex-Officio were unanimously elected into the National Council. 

   vi.        That those positions in NEC that became vacant following the expulsion of the former Officers should and were accordingly immediately filled with the following elected new officers as members of NEC: 

a)    Comrade Ade Ikuesan, elected as the new Vice President.

b)    Comrade Ekine, Peter Henry elected as new Publicity Secretary

c)    Comrade William Akpankpan elected as the new Legal Adviser 

  vii.        That Comrade Atahiru Ibrahim, who was Assistant General Secretary should be and was elevated to General Secretary. 

Arising from the foregoing, and particularly concerned about the preservation of the integrity of CDHR and reputation of its Officers, delegates at the National Council Meeting further resolved as follows: 

a)    That we are committed to ensuring discipline in the Organization

b)    That the Constitution of CDHR should be reviewed

c)    That regular training should be organised for Members/Officers

d)    That NEC is charged with the responsibility to disable all WhatsApp platforms that have been used to divide the CDHR are. 

In his Closing Remarks titled: Without Virtue We Cannot Achieve Our Goals, the President, Comrade (Dr.) Osagie Obayuwana enjoined members not to betray the founding fathers of CDHR by betraying the standards, values and virtues established since the founding of CDHR, thirty-two (32) years ago. He stated thus: “Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr. Beko Ransom-Kuti, Chima Ubani, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Dr. Festus Iyayi, Kanmi Isola-Osobu, Baba Omojala, Olaitan Oyerinde, Bamidele Aturu, Ola Oni, Alao Aka-Bashorun and a host of others too numerous to mention upheld standard and thereby set an example we cannot fall below, just like Balarabe Musa and Didi Adodo who recently joined them“. 

Such values, he affirmed, enabled CDHR to check the excesses of Military dictatorship in our country. Those virtues, supported by uncommon resilience led to the victory over Military rule and the emergence of democracy in Nigeria. The President reiterated that it is only with integrity and virtue that CDHR can achieve the goal of ensuring and protecting the Rights (civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights) of Nigerian Citizens. Thus, he stated that “Most fundamentally, meeting all the tasks calls for courage, commitment and discipline. Above all, we must recognise that integrity was our watchword in the struggle against Military dictatorship; it remains even more so today”.

Council regretted that democratically elected public officers have failed the citizens of our dear country; poor governance, insecurity and unmet welfare have betrayed the expectations of the citizens. He stated thus: “in the past twenty odd years, we have witnessed the sad situation in our country where those who claim to be elected into public offices democratically have by and large failed to meet the expectations of our people, as far as the enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights are concerned. In our reckoning within these past few years, we have come to the inescapable conclusion that once again, we have to go back to the barricades and be ingenious in confronting the holders of public offices in Nigeria to yield to the position that the resources and endowment of Nigeria are to be used to guarantee the enjoyment to the right to a job, right to healthcare, right to housing, right to education, right to old age and disability benefits, freedom from discrimination and all other rights already guaranteed our people, particularly in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights”. The foregoing are the challenges we have to struggle to attain; but the President ended that without virtue we cannot achieve our goals.

Ekine, Peter Henry, Esq
National Publicity Secretary, CDHR