The Federal Government has inaugurated the High-Level Steering Committee for the Eradication of Statelessness in Nigeria in order to kickstart the implementation of its five key priority activities.
The Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Committee Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made this known at the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Steering Committee (HLSC) to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria held on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at the Ministry of Interior.
According to the Minister who defined Statelessness as an emerging global phenomena in which a person is not considered or recognized as a national by any Nation or State under the operation of its laws. He further said that “It is a human right and it’s also a developmental, peace and security issue which affects the dignity of vulnerable persons, strips the affected person of his/her human right and portrays Stateless persons as worthless.” This, he further explained, violates the non-discriminatory provision of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
According to the Minister of Interior, “Nigeria is a signatory to various international treaties geared towards the Eradication of Statelessness in the world, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ratified the Abijan Declaration on Statelessness at the meeting of ECOWAS Heads of States Summit held in Accra on the 19th of May, 2015”. He added “This led to the approval by the Federal Executive Council, on the 2nd of September 2022, of a National Action Plan (NAP) to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria by 2024 in line with the Global Action Plan on Statelessness”.
Members of the HLSC which is Co-chaired by the Ministers of Interior and Humanitarian Affairs include The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Women Affairs, Justice as well as Information and Culture. Present also were the Country Representatives of Development Partners such as UNHCR, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women. Nigeria Immigration Service was represented by the Comptroller-General of Immigration while the Directors-General of National Population Commission and National Boundary Commission also participated.
At the end of the meeting, five Sub-Committees were set up in line with the five priority activities while tasks were delegated to each Sub-Committee. Thereafter, Chairmen and Secretaries were appointed to drive the activities assigned to each Committee.
The five key priorities of the National Action Plan are : Research, advocacy and Sensitization, Preventing Childhood Statelessness, Addressing Statelessness caused by transfer of territory e.g areas transferred by virtue of the 2002 judgment of the ICJ and the consequential Greentree Agreement, Eradicating gender and other forms of discrimination in the grant of Citizenship and with regards to issuance of documents of identity as well as Protection of Stateless persons, migrants and refugees.
Bringing the meeting to an end, the Chairman and Minister of Interior thanked the members for their valuable contributions and urged members to bear in mind how critical their tasks are and to note that the nation relied on their collective expertise to bring the scourge of Statelessness to an end.