Sowore: HURIWA decries deplorable human rights situation in Nigeria, tells Buhari what to do

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has decried what it termed “deplorable” state of human rights in Nigeria.

HURIWA explained that Nigeria faces uncertainty and drifting towards anarchy if the human rights issues are not currently addressed.

The body in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko was reacting to the re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement by the Department of State Services, DSS, at an Abuja Federal High Court.

Pointing out some human rights violation in Nigeria, HURIWA urged President Muhammadu Buhari to set up governing board of the National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria.

The rights group further stated that The Hague must be compelled to investigate the killings carried out by armed Fulani herdsmen which the current Federal government has failed to investigate.

The statement reads partly: “The present human rights situation in Nigeria is deplorable and does not aid the cause of the government nor the plight of citizens.

“It is one which must be urgently addressed otherwise the country faces uncertainty and most certainly drifts towards anarchy where even governance is not guaranteed.

“President Muhammadu Buhari must be told to set up the governing board of the National Human Rights Commission made up of only credible persons so the commission can very competently attend to her constitutional mandate because the commission is being administered as a routine government office and it has failed in its ombudsman’s role to promote and protect human rights.

“The International Criminal Court in The Hague Netherlands must be compelled to investigate the killings carried out by armed Fulani herdsmen which the current Federal government has failed to investigate and punish the mass killers. Impunity and human rights are strange bedfellows, so the Nigerian State must eradicate official lawlessness and impunity so Nigerians can enjoy human rights.

“The high handedness of security operatives is notorious fact. A case in point is the attempted re-arrest and indeed the RE-ARREST of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoleye Sowore, at the Federal High Court Abuja just hours after his release from 124 day detention by the DSS. Popular human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN was quoted as saying that the action of the DSS was unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. The USA Senator and ranking member of the United States Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, Mr Bob Mendez on press conference on the issue said: “I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoleye Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression….

“This blatant miscarriage of justice is symptomatic of closing political and media space in Nigeria.”

“Also, Senator Cory Booker, a USA presidential aspirant condemned the incident in the following words via his verified Twitter handle:

“It is appalling that NJ Omoyele Sowore was re-arrested in Nigeria hours after his release. This is a shocking affront to the country’s rule of law and Nigeria must cease its dangerous attacks on freedom of expression.”

“The United States Department of State via its Twitter handle stated that:

“We are deeply concerned that Sowore has been re-detained in Nigeria, shortly after a court-ordered he be released on bail. Respect for rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of democracy.”

“The respected legal luminary, Mike Ozekhome, SAN best captures the bizarre situation in the following words: “It was a show of extreme shame, disgust and degeneracy to see a whole secret security apparatchik descend to the abysmal gutters of physically invading the hallowed chambers of a court of law to forcefully arrest a suspect, Viet armies, by resort to crude and unorthodox Hitlerite Gestapo tactics in a supposed constitutional democracy. The video that went viral about this ugly and ill-advised outing that has further reduced our worth in the perception of the international community is condemnable in every sense of the word. It downgrades us, belittles us, and our humanity and makes us laughable before civilized nations. We beheld an unarmed helpless and hapless Sowore being dragged on the floor, helpless like a vanquished prisoner of war (POW) just taken as a ransom.

“Justice Ojukwu had to be spirited off to her chambers by her security. When a government that is supposed to respect and protect institutions, citizens’ rights and rule of law, invades and desecrates the SACRED precincts of Court of law, then we are in trouble. When the same DSS invaded judges homes in October 2016 terrorizing the helpless judges and their families, many uninformed Nigerians hailed the misadventure as a sign of fighting corruption. I had vehemently disagreed then, citing section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and section 7 of the ACJA that inure In us our humanity and human dignity and respect. I had warned then of a possible descent into anarchy and chaos if the masked DSS goons were not immediately restrained and halted on their tracks. Friday’s disgraceful and atrocious outing by the DSS is the clearest exemplification of a rudderless state in search of a redemptive dues ex-machina.

“A government that is short on tolerance to criticism, plurality of voices and opposition and which serially violates citizens’ rights and disobeys court orders is a ready recipe for organized disenchantment. Our constitutional democracy should be modelled on the rule of law and not on the rule of thumb of a benevolent ruler, even if dictatorial, tyrannical, absolutist and fascist.”

“The National Human Rights Commission equally reacted to the incident through a statement released on Saturday December 7, 2019:

“The National Human Rights Commission has watched with dismay the conduct of law enforcement officers in facie yesterday Friday 6th December 2019…

“Accordingly, the Commission directed all the relevant agencies of government to arrest and try all law enforcement officers involved in the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the Federal High Court Abuja on Friday 6th Dec 2019 for contempt in the face of the court.”

“Moreover, it seems the intimidation and harassment of judges has negatively impacted the enjoyment of human rights in the country. Besides the reluctance of some judges to make bold pronouncement for the protection of human rights in the face of obvious violations, the current trend of stringent and onerous bail terms suggest that some judges are tale guided by the executive or have become a part of the prosecution which in some cases are mere persecutions.

“Furthermore, the flagrant disobedience of court orders by the present government has greatly derogated from human rights. In the unreported case in Suit No.FCT/HC/CV/69/2015-Herfort Ike Ezeudu v. Inspector General of Police & 1or, the applicant, whose Nigerian and Canadian passports were seized by the Nigeria police, sued for redress of the breach of his fundamental rights. The erudite Hon Justice Peter Affen of the FCT High Court in his judgment on 15th of December 2015 held the seizure of the passports to be unconstitutional and ordered return of same “forthwith” to the Applicant, however, four (4) years on, the order has not been complied with.

“Imperative for the Protection of Human Rights; A call for redemption:

“The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) clearly states that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. In the same vein, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan said when you deprive people of their right to live in dignity, to hope or a better future, to have control over their lives, then you expect them to fight for their rights.

“There is already a crisis on our hands. Surprise coups, violent revolutions and bloody confrontations have resulted from similar situations like ours, we are not immune to them but we cannot afford to have them because of the wider acceptability of democracy as the best form of government. Nigeria must protect our constitutional democracy by all lawful means and never allow for the destruction of constitutionalism because there is no alternative to constitutional democracy. Moreover, no reasonable human gravitate towards areas of human rights abuses; the present situation is a minus to the investment drive of the government. Urgent attention is required to salvage the sinking sheep before it is completely submerged. The other grave threat to the enjoyment of human rights apart from the high rate of crime, the breakdown of Law and order and extra-legal killings by supposed law enforcement agents, is the plan by the current government to dubiously borrow over $30 billion foreign loans which will inevitably be stolen by officials of the central government who cannot account for the already accumulated humongous amounts of credits the government collected from all kinds of institutions and nation’s such as China. Driving Nigeria into the debts trap will enslave us for a lifetime and this would mark the end of human rights protection in Nigeria.

“Nigerians must reject the plot now in the National Assembly to permit the President to borrow $30 billion USD. There is a general collapse of strategic national infrastructures such as roads and electricity and the basic necessities of water and health facilities are not available for the millions of Nigerians even as government official embark on medical tourism for themselves and their families to such civilised nations like UK and USA at public costs. The other time the President spent months in a London hospital at huge expenses to the taxpayers. Government officials spend public fund to sponsor their children in European schools whereas public educational institutions are undermined and destroyed. This brings about wide inequality in the society which is a grave human rights crime. Nigeria has over 12 million out of school children and the Child Rights law is breached wantonly even as children face sexual violations by adults and the police aren’t sufficiently trained to tackle the menace. Human trafficking is also a menace.

“These are the major violations of the Human Rights of all Nigerians especially the millions of commoners. That Nigeria now is the poverty capital of the World with over 90 million absolutely poor people shows that the state of Human Rights in Nigeria is precarious and has reached an emergency situation.”

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