- Calls for independent investigation
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to stop issuing out threats against International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) operating in the country such as Amnesty International (AI) for speaking out against terrible state of human rights.
HURIWA in a statement issued on Tuesday by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, counseled the DHQ to scientifically address the issues raised in the well-considered human rights report as they relate to Nigeria instead of drawing the country back to the days of intolerant military dictatorship whereby dissenting voices are driven underground.
The pro-democracy group advised the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar to be moderate in the use of language” in order not to send the wrong signals to the rest of the world that Nigeria is a Banana Republic whereby might is right and life is made brutish, short, miserable, cruel and distasteful by the political rulers of the political space called Nigeria”.
“The military is an institution created, supported and protected by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian Constitution explicitly states in Section 14 that Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through the Constitution derives authority and powers.
Besides, HURIWA said the well written and scientifically researched Nigerian reports of the Amnesty International’s human rights world report for 2016/2017 spoke to the critical issues of the brutal encounter the Nigerian Citizens has had in the periods under review with a section of the Armed forces of Nigeria.
The Rights group said therefore it is wrong headed to threaten Amnesty International by spewing out the language of fire and brimstone as if Nigeria is still living in a state of nature whereby the fundamental human rights of Nigerians don’t matter.
Part of the statement read: “As patriotic citizens of Nigeria, we in the HURIWA have on many occasions raised objections on the affronts to the human rights of Nigerians to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of Association and Peaceful assembly. We have had to call for proper investigations of the brutal killings of unarmed civilians in Onitsha, Anambra State, and Aba in Abia State by operatives of the Armed forces because they were holding peaceful assembly of the Indigenous People of Biafra.”
“The Nigerian Army must submit to the authority of the Constitution and abide by the rules of engagement by observing the constitutional provision in Chapter Four that prohibits summary execution by soldiers/police of unarmed civilians only because they sympathize with the advocacy of the Indigenous People of Biafra.”
“The least the military should do is to work with critical stakeholders and independent international and local based non-governmental organisations towards reaching comprehensive but independent scientific investigations of these claims of extralegal killings. The persons who were killed whilst engaging in lawful and peaceful assembly are citizens who deserved all the fundamental human rights that are universal, inalienable, and basic. The illegal termination of their precious lives must not be overlooked but must be adequately addressed and all those found guilty of extralegal killings are identified, prosecuted and punished in accordance with the laws”.
The NGO also expressed strong support for AI’s 2016/2017 human rights report and asked the Acting President of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo to encourage the constitution of an Independent Panel headed by the United Nations to investigate the recorded and evidential claims of extralegal killings of demonstrators as raised by Amnesty International and similar bodies.
HURIWA recalls that Amnesty International had stated that “The military was deployed in 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states and in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja where they performed routine policing functions including responding to non-violent demonstrations. The military deployment to police public gatherings contributed to the number of extrajudicial executions and unlawful killings. Since January, in response to the continued agitation by pro-Biafra campaigners, security forces arbitrarily arrested and killed at least 100 members and supporters of the group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Some of those arrested were subjected to enforced disappearance.”
HURIWA regretted that rather than government to order for a forensic verification of these claims the Defence headquarters adopted the use of crude threats to dismiss Amnesty International.
The pressure recalled that the Defence Spokesperson had stated that: “The AI infamous act only succeeds in giving an insight to the possibility of the organization sponsoring various criminal gangs in our country with a view to achieving the sponsor’s intent.
Also, the Rights group faulted General Abubakar’s claims that; “Al has negative mission in Nigeria. It is an agent of destabilization, masquerading as a reputable international NGO which Nigerians should rise up to this daunting challenge of not giving AI the chance to truncate our hard earned democracy and unity.”
HURIWA further demanded for a comprehensive, unbiased, independent and scientific investigation of the reports of extralegal killings as identified by the UK registered AI.