HRVIC@20 Conf


The Information Aid Network (IFAnet) in partnership with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) is convening an international conference in commemoration of two decades after the inauguration of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission of Nigeria in the summer of 2019 between the 19th and 22nd June. The Nigerian State has witnessed different regime transitions in its 56 years of existence. The great expectations and hopes that greeted its independence on October 1st, 1960 was thwarted by corruption, political violence and several military coups resulting in years of instability. The post independent years thus witnessed several intra-state and religious agitations among the over 400 ethnic groups in the country. As with all unstable polities, there have been massive violations of human rights in the forms of unlawful arrests, convictions and incarcerations, sporadic disappearances, destruction of valuable properties, kidnappings and arbitrary killings. These abuses further fanned the embers of mistrust and acrimony among Nigerian citizens who then sought to emphasize what differentiates from the ‘other’. However, the return to democracy in 1999 ushered in new aspirations as the government began the fourth republic with the inauguration of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC), which was modeled after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In inaugurating the seven-man commission chaired by the Late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (rtd), the then President Olusegun Obasanjo charged the commission to reconcile misunderstandings among the different aggrieved and marginalized factions in order to move the country forward. The commission, well received by Nigerians, was religiously monitored through the televised public hearings, which sought to reconcile both the victims and the perpetrators. Nevertheless, two decades after the conclusion of these public hearings, Nigerians have remained divided on the importance, impact and gains of the HRVIC. This conference is thus designed to bring academics, public analysts, lawyers, researchers, public office holders, media practitioners, civil society advocates, non-governmental organizations, government parastatal and agencies, international organizations and the Nigerian public together to take stock of the challenges, prospects and gains of the commission. It poses important questions such as: How has the Nigerian state benefitted from the commission? What happened to the recommendations of the commission? How effective was the implementation committee? What cues can be taken for national unity and ethnic integration?  Consequently, IFAnet is soliciting for paper presentation and roundtable proposals from intending participants on the following areas:

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Sukur Cultural Landscape | Nigeria

Heritage sites is of great significance in local, regional and national context, it brings pride to the citizen as they could portray themselves as ambassadors of their countries, this is awesome especially given the story behind the sites. It also stimulate socioeconomic status of the host country when the potentials of the site are harnessed either as a tourist center to help boost Internally generated revenue or by way of learning form the culture which have helped sustained this site.


© Ishanlosen Odiaua
Author: Ishanlosen Odiaua

The Sukur Cultural Landscape, with the Palace of the Hidi (Chief) on a hill dominating the villages below, the terraced fields and their sacred symbols, and the extensive remains of a former flourishing iron industry, is a remarkably intact physical expression of a society and its spiritual and material culture.

Outstanding Universal Value
Brief synthesis

Sukur is located in Madagali local government area of Adamawa state of Nigeria along Nigeria/ Cameroon border, some 290 km from Yola, the Adamawa state capital of north eastern Nigeria. It is a hilltop settlement which stood at an elevation of 1045 m. The total land area covered by the site is 1942.50 ha with core zone having 764.40 ha and the buffer zone 1178.10 ha respectively. Sukur is an ancient settlement with a recorded history of iron smelting technology, flourishing trade, and strong political institution dating back to the 16th century.
The landscape is characterized by terraces on the farmlands, dry stone structures and stone paved walkways.The terraced landscape at Sukur with its hierarchical structure and combination of intensive and extensive farming is remarkable.  In addition, it has certain exceptional features that are not to be found elsewhere, notably the use of paved tracks and the spiritual content of the terraces, with their ritual features such as sacred trees.

The revered position of the Hidi as the political and spiritual head of the community is underscored by the magnificent dry stone architectural work of his palace, in and around which is a concentration of shrines, some ceramic. The villages situated on low lying ground below the Hidi Palace have their own characteristic indigenous architecture. Among its features are dry stone walls, used as social markers and defensive enclosures, sunken animal (principally bull) pens, granaries, and threshing floors. Groups of mud walled thatched roofed houses are integrated by low stone walls. Of considerable social and economic importance are the wells. These are below-ground structures surmounted by conical stone structures and surrounded by an enclosure wall. Within the compound are pens where domestic animals such as cattle and sheep are fattened, either for consumption by the family or for use as prestige and status symbols used in gift and marriage exchanges.


© Ishanlosen Odiaua
Author: Ishanlosen Odiaua

The remains of many disused iron-smelting furnacescan still be found. These shaft-type furnaces, blown with bellows, were usually sited close to the houses of their owners. Iron production involved complex socio-economic relationships and there was a considerable ritual associated with it.
Criterion (iii): Sukur is an exceptional landscape that graphically illustrates a form of land-use that marks a critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment.
Criterion (v): The cultural landscape of Sukur has survived unchanged for many centuries, and continues to do so at a period when this form of traditional human settlement is under threat in many parts of the world.
Criterion (vi): The cultural landscape of Sukur is eloquent testimony to a strong and continuing spiritual and cultural tradition that has endured for many centuries.

The boundary contains all the key elements of the cultural landscape.
The traditional terraced system of agriculture and its associated ritual systems are still flourishing. However, the traditional buildings are vulnerable to changes in materials and techniques – particularly the thatched roofs that require frequent maintenance.

The key features of the cultural landscape have not been significantly modified since they were laid down. The way in which they have been maintained since that time has been in traditional form using traditional materials and techniques.

The cultural components are still actively present among the community since they are part of their living culture. The stone structures in form of houses, farm terraces and walkways still remain the most distinct feature of Sukur landscape. The regular observance of festivals and ceremonies are evidence of cultural continuity. These events have become more attractive due to the involvement of local and state governments.

Protection and management requirements
The Sukur Cultural Landscape is a National Monument as determined by the Joint Instrument of Federal Decree No. 77 of 1979 (now NCMM ACT, Cap 242 of 2000) and the subsequent legal authority of the Adamawa State Government as in Gazette No. 47 Vol. 7 of 20 November 1997, and the written consent of the Hidi-in-Council.
In 1998, the Madagali Local Government, the Sukur Development Association, the State Council for Arts and Culture, and Adamawa State Government have agreed to work with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments towards the development of a sustainable preservation and cultural education programme.
In February 2010, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation inaugurated a Management Committee. Integrating customary law and Nigeria’s decree No. 77 of 1979, the Site Management Plan for the period 2006-2011 is being used by the Committee as the guiding principle for site conservation, management and protection.
Since inscription in 1999, all physical remains have been properly conserved by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in collaboration with Sukur community. Annual restoration work has been carried out using traditional construction materials. Along with shrines and other sacred places, the Hidi Palace Complex is properly maintained because they are currently in use.
Domestic farmlands are continually being expanded with the creation of stepped level benches adapted to hill farming. The age long tradition of communal labour is still used to maintain paved walkways, gates, graveyards, homesteads and house compounds.

Culled from UNESCO World Heritage Sites website

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