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Promoting The Right of Original Inhabitant

The Political, Civil, And Cultural Rights of FCT Original Inhabitants Matter

Statement by Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) at Stakeholders Consultative Meeting for Agenda Setting On Participation of FCT Original Inhabitants in 1999 Constitution Review Process held on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Toprank Hotel Galaxy, POW Mafemi Crescent, Jabi, FCT Abuja.


Distinguished FCT stakeholders, Original Inhabitant groups and organizations, invited guests, ladies, and gentlemen.

It is a great privilege to welcome you on behalf of the Board of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) to this Stakeholders Consultative Meeting aimed to set agenda, brainstorm on strategies, and galvanize FCT groups and communities to engage the 1999 Constitution Review Process. We are pleased that stakeholders, interest groups and community activists representing the interests of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT have found the time to be part of this crucial meeting, despite the short notice. This is a mark of commitment to the cause of redressing the decades-long entrenched injustices and marginalization, which the entire Nigerian political system has foisted on the Original Inhabitants of the FCT.

Notwithstanding its many limitations and contradictions, the various process towards the review of the 1999 Constitution present veritable opportunities to canvass the core issues aimed at redressing the marginalization, as well as the entrenched violation of the political, civil, and cultural rights of FCT Original Inhabitants, within the context of the Nigerian federation. It is a paradox of the Nigerian condition that Original Inhabitants on whose ancestral lands Nigerian built its capital city, have been over the years treated unjustly and unfairly. CHRICED in solidarity with Original Inhabitants affirms that the maltreatment, marginalization and institutionalized discrimination being meted against the Original Inhabitants of the FCT stands condemned. We make this point because a nation built on injustice will know no peace, neither will it experience stability.

Therefore, CHRICED hereby declares its willingness to work in concert with Original Inhabitants of the FCT to begin campaigns, advocacies and other forms of engagements, which would put the core issues undermining the political, civil, economic and cultural rights of FCT Original Inhabitants on the fore front of the national and international discourse. CHRICED is therefore committed to the task of amplifying the voices of Original Inhabitant communities, organizations, influencers and activists, to influence key governance processes, beginning with the Public Hearing organized by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

Nonetheless, it is critical to stress that CHRICED is not coming to take over the struggle of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT. The Original Inhabitants are the ones wearing the shoes, and they are in the best position to know where it pinches them. Original Inhabitants of the FCT have been the ones at the receiving end of unjust dispossession of their lands without proper compensation. They are the ones whose environment and biodiversity has been affected by the aggressive pace of development in the FCT. As things stand, FCT Original Inhabitants have been rendered stateless resulting in a situation where it is Nigerians from other parts of the federation that preside over their affairs. In the area of infrastructural development, healthcare, education and basic services, Original Inhabitants communities have been treated shabbily and unfairly by the rest of Nigeria.

Irrespective of how long these injustices have prevailed, we at CHRICED believe it is not enough to agonise. Original Inhabitants groups need to organise and galvanise the people at the grassroots to get their voices heard. In this regard, CHRICED is of the view that sensitization, and enlightenment of both the elites and the people at the grassroots is critical. CHRICED role is to support these local initiatives particularly those relevant to the fulfilment of the political, economic and cultural rights of FCT Original Inhabitants.

Distinguished Stakeholders, ladies and gentlemen, it is pertinent to state that CHRICED hopes this collaboration, synergy and partnership will not be a one-off. After the public hearing, CHRICED hopes to work with Original Inhabitants groups to further drive the action points. We believe that beyond attending the public hearing, this Stakeholders Consultative Meeting will deliberate, and come up with strategies and next steps, which would lead to an effective and sustainable campaign to put FCT Original Inhabitants issues in the hearts and minds of Nigerians and the international community.

Subsequently, I cannot conclude this statement without stressing, the importance of unity of purpose. No matter how worthy a cause is, without unity of purpose, there would be severe limitations to the realisation of the core objectives. In this regard, CHRICED wishes to encourage all Original Inhabitants groups in the FCT to work with unity of purpose towards achieving the clearly defined objectives, which would in turn lead to the emancipation of the people. Once again, thank you for attending this Stakeholders Consultative Meeting despite the short notice. I hope this will be the beginning of effective partnerships, synergies and collaboration to end the entrenched injustices and marginalization of the Original Inhabitants of the FCT.