Huriwa Logo

Huriwa Logo

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

HURIWA COUNSELS MASSOB ON GANDUJE:

A prominent non-governmental and pro-democracy organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has faulted the warning issued by the movement for the sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) against the conferment of traditional title on Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State by Eze Eberechi Dick in Aba, Abia State.
The Rights group in a statement against the backdrop of the widely circulated warning by MASSOB, stated that it was wrong to frustrate a genuine inter-ethnic initiative that is capable of engendering national harmony, peace and stability of Nigeria. HURIWA said any genuine group that believes in egalitarianism and the sustainable development of the Igbo nation should not be seen constituting itself into an obstacle against social or economic ventures that will advance the common interest of the Igbo people.
HURIWA noted that although as a civil society body, it had protested the decision of the Kano State judicial authority not to prosecute the killers of the Imo State woman Mrs. Bridget Agbahime in Kano over alleged blasphemy, but it nevertheless urged the pro-Igbo group to pursue justice for the late Kano based trader through the due process of the law rather than overheating the polity.
“We have been in the forefront of genue agitation for the murderers of this innocent 78-years old woman to be effectively prosecuted for this dastardly act of primitivism and crass criminality. We have already sent our letters to the Kano State government on the need to reopen the murder trial of these Islamic fundamentalists so as to deliver lasting closure to this woman and her family.”
The Rights group however insisted that in the last three years, the administration of the Kano State governor has adopted fundamental and far reaching measures to promote and protect the public interest of all the people doing businesses in Kano and the government has worked assiduously to protect the commercial investments of hundreds of thousands of Igbo residing in Kano. HURIWA praised governor Ganduje for putting inter-Ethnic dialogues and harmony in the front burners of governmental affairs.
The group applauded the monarch of the autonomous community in Aba, Abia state for deciding to honour the Kano State governor with a well-deserved chieftaincy title just as HURIWA stated that the event if allowed to take place is such that will much more robustly bring about broader understanding of two of the most largest ethnicities in Nigeria.
HURIWA recalled that Movement for the actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) had reportedly enjoined Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State not to visit Aba for a chieftaincy title.
HURIWA recalled that Its National Director of Information, Edeson Samuel, gave the warning in a statement in Enugu, following the plan by Eze Eberechi Dick to confer the tittle on the governor.
HURIWA said the group claimed that Dr. Ganduje does not deserve to receive such traditional title because of his gross disrespect and venom for Ndigbo just as the pro-Igbo group accused the governor of several atrocities against Ndigbo, citing the gruesome murder of an Igbo woman, Mrs. Bridget Agbahime in Kano.
HURIWA said all hands must be on deck to promote only those issues and events that will rapidly promote a national consensus around the thematic areas of national integration just as the Rights group affirmed that the Traditional event in honour of the Kano state governor should and must be allowed to proceed because of the monumental social and commercial benefits it will yield in the lives of the good people of Abia State. The group further applauded the Abia state government for throwing its weight behind the event.

EFCC fails test of objectivity By Emmanuel Onwubiko

On a very lovely and fascinating day, I was randomly going through some of these random thoughts of some articulate public affairs’ commentators and one thing led to another, leading to my attention being drawn to one of these uniquely attractive claim made on the social media page of one of the most articulate upwardly mobile Nigerians.

In it, this man listed out what he considered as the milestones of the previous administrations since the inception of democracy in 1999 made by the respective Presidents.

In the column in which this writer made claims about the then president Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 to 2007, he listed the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as one amongst the notable institutional achievements. True to his claim the establishment of EFCC is one of the most important national landmark achievements ever made by any administrations since the creation of Nigeria in 1960. This is because corruption and theft of public fund by government officials in Nigeria have combined to cripple the corporate progress of Nigeria and is the number one cause of mass poverty. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as at the time President Obasanjo was in office, had reeled out an estimate of $400 billion as the cumulative amount stolen by government officials since Nigeria started expiration of crude oil for exports in the last four decades. So the coming of that body to go after corrupt government officials past and present, remains a phenomenal achievement of all times.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was set up pursuant to the EFCC ACT of 2004 which specifically in part II beginning from section 6 allocated very important functions that the agency ought to carry out with the underlying objective of stamping out economic crimes from Nigeria’s body polity. In the Nigerian constitution in section 15(5) the Nigerian State is charged to eliminate corrupt practices and abuse of office. That constitutes the constitutional background for the institutionalization of the EFCC ACT.

Going through the entire gamut of the EFCC Act, the area that fascinates me so much is the Part II Section 6 (a) which specifies that the commission shall be responsible for the enforcement and due administration of the provisions of the Act.

What the aforementioned purports is that the operatives and officers of this public institution for combating graft are obliged by law to adhere strictly to the due process of the law and must never become willing tools for witch hunt or politically motivated shadow boxing or war targeting perceived or even imaginary opponents of the appointing authority.

I said that this subsection tickles my fancy because it is the measure of the adherence to this provision by the operators of the agency that determines how objective they are regarding the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the law against economic crimes.

The framers of this EFCC Act within the then executive council of the federation under the then president Olusegun Obasanjo were aware of the overwhelming tendencies of politicians to use law enforcement agencies to go after political opponents of the political party in power.
However, this safeguard implanted within the EFCC Act has been flagrantly violated by the hierarchy over the years.

The inherent abuses of this legal safeguard has even resulted in a very damaging indictment of the EFCC under the current dispensation as contained in the latest global human rights report written by the government of the United States of America.

This report repeated the often canvassed position in most critical quarters that EFCC has become too drawn to the politics of working for the political party in power.

The Americans reports thus: “Although ICPC and EFCC anti-corruption efforts remained largely focused on low and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election both organizations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials. Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for the granting multiple adjournments.”

“EFCC arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC.”

The report by the Americans continued thus: "In a case brought by the EFCC, in November a federal court convicted four firms allegedly used by a former aide of former president Goodluck Jonathan of laundering 1.67 billion naira ($5.3 million) in stolen funds. In its pursuit of corruption, the EFCC often did not observe all pertinent due process safeguards".

"In November the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice declared unlawful the arrest and detention in 2015 of former national security advisor Sambo Dasuki. A court ordered him released on bail in a case brought by the EFCC for the alleged diversion of 13.6 billion naira ($43.2 million) intended to purchase military material during the Jonathan administration. Despite the court order, he remained in detention.”

The general perception amongst a majority of Nigerians is that the EFCC under the current administration has become the attack dog of the party in power- All Progressives Congress.

The EFCC has unleashed her fangs on mostly opposition figures such as serving governors and the National Assembly members and leaders who are perceived not to be subservient to President Muhammadu Buhari and most particularly, the EFCC has gone after the Deputy Senate president.

The Deputy Senate president Professor Ike Ekweremadu has been a marked man since he emerged as deputy senate president in the hitherto, All Progressives Congress dominated senate against the official decision of president Buhari. Buhari has therefore voiced his determination to ensure that the deputy senate president is removed from office.

Recently, the EFCC and DSS laid siege in the house of the Deputy Senate President and detained him extra legally for a day in his house without any form of warrant.

The next day, EFCC issued a poorly scripted letter seeking to explain why it undertook that show of shame in the home of the deputy senate president.

Readers would recall that the letter of invitation to the Deputy President of the Senate requesting him to report at the EFCC headquarters at 10am of July 24, 2018 was also dated the same July 24 2018 that they laid siege to his house.

This shows that the so-called invitation was an afterthought aimed at perfection of the truncation of the Senate leadership.

This writer also has it on good authority that even though he was willing to answer the invitation even without prior notice, the security personnel and the EFCC would not let him go.

Under the Nigerian laws, letter of invitation by an agency of government is not the same as a warrant of arrest, search warrant, or warrant of house arrest.

This is a grave threat to the principle of separation of powers with the ulterior aim of forcing a regime change in the leadership cadre of the senate.

Readers would recall that the presidency has since marked Professor Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President as a persona non grata simply because he belongs to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, but got elected by a bipartisan and an increasingly independent parliament relying on Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

Recall again that the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki was made to pass through a tortuous three-year trial over alleged false declaration of assets, which the larger population of Nigerians saw as politically motivated.

He was recently acquitted by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Recall that the presidency arraigned the Senate President and his Deputy, Prof. Ekweremadu, in 2016 over false charges of forgery of Senate Standing Rule only to withdraw it when it was clear they could not establish anything against them in court.

Men of the Nigeria Police Force from the Inspector-General of Police's office also invaded the official guest house of Prof. Ekweremadu in May 2017. Nothing was found after thorough search. Basically, the bulk of the staff in the operations department of EFCC are police operatives.

The misuse of the anti-corruption agencies is a present threat to the nation's democracy.
The continuous deployment on illegal duties of the armed security forces targeting certain principal officers of the national assembly is a clear violations of section 34 (1) (a); section 35 (1) and section 36 (1) of the constitution of Nigeria.

Section 34 (1) (a): “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”; 35(1) “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty; by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law; for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence”; 36 (1) “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

This is the constitutional function of the police- “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all law and regulations with which they are directly charged and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of, this or any other act.”

There is really no doubt that the current leadership of EFCC has become deeply involved in partisan politics in pursuit of the advancement of the political interest of president Buhari.

The Acting Chairman has been seen wearing a campaign badge of the incumbent president.
The EFCC has immediately gone after Benue and Akwa Ibom state governments and used illegal means to freeze their accounts.

Personally, I have the strong feeling that since the acting chairman failed to secure confirmation following his indictment by the Department of State Services, he may have it at the back of his mind that his continuous stay in office is at the discretion of the president and so he may have the desire to try to pay back for the show of extra ordinary good will in keeping him (Ibrahim Magu) back on his job even when constitutionally he can’t be confirmed as substantive chairman of EFCC.

The senate had on many occasions demanded his removal but the presidency resisted. Akwa Ibom and Rivers State administrations and also Benue state governor have all voice out the same accusations of partisanship against EFCC under Ibrahim Magu. EFCC said it was investigating what Benue governor does with security votes but it has not ask all those who use security votes including President Muhammadu Buhari what they do with their security votes which in any event is unconstitutional.

However, the EFCC has attempted to debunk the well-grounded evidence of lack of professional objectivity in the way they have gone on with pre-meditated attacks of political rivals of the president.

When the result of the disputed Ekiti state governorship poll came out and the incumbent was said not to have retained the slot for the PDP, the EFCC issued a tweet in which the agency threatened Mr. Ayo Fayose even as they taunted him that his immunity will soon be over and EFCC would come after him.

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, however tepidly dismissed the speculations that the anti-graft agency is being used to witch-hunt the perceived enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.

According to him, “The EFCC will not, and does not engage in witch-hunt. Our activities are in line with international best practices.

“In all that we do, we are indeed, guided first by the fear of God and patriotism to our fatherland and the rule of law.

“I will continue to discharge my duties solely by the fear of Almighty God, the overriding interest of our fatherland, Nigeria and the rule of law.”

Sadly, the Executive arm of government has continued to arm-twist the national Assembly and using all sorts of illegal means to undermine the constitutional authority of this legislative body. The National Assembly should have insisted that the EFCC respects the due process of the law. Nigerians must insist on the adherence strictly to the due process of the law by EFCC. This will help save our rapidly dying democracy.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blog @ www.huriwanigeria.com; www.emmanuelonwubiko.com; www.huriwa.blogspot.com.

World Elephant Day 2018: An Urgent Call to Protect Nigeria’s Elephants By: 'Seyifunmi Adebote (Abuja, Nigeria)

“Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant, except in a picture book?” - David Attenborough.
 
Of the 5 big games, it is not so easy to come by an Elephant in Nigeria today - both in the wild and in captive areas; except you find yourself in the Yankari National Park, believed to have the largest and most important Elephant herd of merely 100-150 or the Omu – Shasha Forest, Ogun State. The other place you can readily come by an Elephant is at the Jos Wildlife Park where an 8-foot, one-tusked, African Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta africana) has been stranded in an isolated block for 38-years.
 
A report by the United Nations in 2015, asserts that up to 100 Elephants – both Savannah and Forest species are being slaughtered daily in Africa by poachers, primarily for their tusk which the Chinese market constantly demands. As organizations and conservationists intensify efforts to halt illegal ivory trade and wildlife trafficking, recent research posits that the whole of Africa has an estimate of 352,271 Savanna Elephants left, a far cry from between 3-5 million censored by World Wildlife Foundation in the 20th century.
 
25 years after a ban was placed on ivory trade, emerging markets still makes it more difficult to address this menace. In 2015, the Chinese government in a bid to reduce the demand for African tusks and protect wild elephants made conscious efforts to curb ivory imports; however, reoccurring reports and pictures stress that a lot more Elephants are being poached in southern and northern Nigeria and their tusks exported to Asian countries. The most recent that made the news in Bauchi, Ogun, Osun and Idanre area of Ondo state, Nigeria.
 
Across the globe, as World Elephant Day is celebrated today, one wonders what will become of the few Elephants left in Nigeria; hence, the call for pragmatic, pro-wildlife actions to turn the tide and save the remaining Elephants in Nigeria. The efforts of Nigeria-based organizations like Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative through her various Wildlife Education programs and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation through her Forest Elephant Alive Campaign, among others, should not only be commended, they should be better funded to help them explore effective, science-based conservation strategies.
 
If we want future generations to live in a world where elephants thrive, the Wildlife Conservation Society has outlined and advocated the need to:
1.    Increase aerial surveillance in strongholds.
2.    Train and deploy more rangers in the protected areas.
3.    Supply new rangers with equipment.
4.    Assist the authorities in tracking and shutting down trafficking networks.
5.    Grow our community development programs to support local communities to co-exist with wildlife.
 
What will you do to help protect elephants and to support existing Elephant conservation initiatives?
 
Photo Credit: An Elephant at Jos Wildlife Park, by Kim Dashong
'Seyifunmi Adebote, an environmentalist writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Stop political manipulation of EFCC: - Huriwa tells presidency


The foremost civil society organization: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the incessant political manipulation of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission by the presidency, noting that the Anti-graft commission is rapidly loosing public confidence and is acquiring a notorious reputation as the attack dog of All Progressive Congress (APC).

HURIWA specifically condemned the unconstitutional freezing of the bank account of Benue and Akwa Ibom States that are controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), just as the rights group described the unending meetings between the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Ibrahim Magu and the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo as nocturnal politically motivated hatchet meeting aimed at marshaling out strategies for witch-hunting political opponents of the Presidency.

In a media statement authorized jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA expressed displeasure that inspite of the notoriety attracted by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the global human rights report issued by the United State of America which affirmed that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is been used for political witch hunt by the federal government, the Presidency has persisted in the pastime of implementing steps for a direct political manipulation and control for political agenda of the Anti-graft Agency (EFCC).

The rights group recalled that the global human rights report for the year 2017 from the State department of the United States of America had indicted the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over her apparent lack of professionalism and political neutrality in the administration and enforcement of the EFCC ACT of 2004, even as the report had stated as follows. “EFCC arrest and indictment of politicians continued through the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivation on the part of the EFCC.”

HURIWA expressed shock and consternation that inspite of the fact that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (ESTABLISHMENT) ACT 2004 enacted by the National Assembly of the federal republic of Nigeria as a legal framework to govern the operations of the anti-graft agency confers some commendable level of operational autonomy and did not envisage that the head of the commission should be turned into a presidential errand boy, on the contrary, the present Administration has converted the acting chairman of the EFCC into a chief servant of the presidency who frequents the offices of the president, the vice president or the acting president (as the case may be) to take instructions on which of the Peoples Democratic Party’s controlled states should be attacked including the illegal freezing of operational accounts of these opposition states. The group stated that these incessant political interferences in the affairs of the EFCC by the Executive arm of government has led to a general perception around the World that the war against corruption and economic crimes been waged by the Presidency is targeted at harassing, intimidating and oppressing the leading political opponents to make it easier for the incumbent administration to enjoy easy ride during the forthcoming general election next year in which the incumbent President has declared intention to run. HURIWA also affirmed that the controversy generated by the open display of partisanship by the acting Chairman of the EFCC who wore the campaign badge of President Muhammadu Buhari to the inauguration of the newly built multibillion Naira worth headquarters had hardly died down before it has again become a notorious fact that the head of EFCC takes regular directives from the Presidency as if the hierarchy of EFCC lacks the necessary competences to administer the EFCC without being teleguided by the politicians in the Presidential Villa who have partisan objective to win the next general election. 

HURIWA stated that the enabling law setting up the anti-graft agency makes comprehensive provisions for the head of that agency to operate as the chief executive officer and chief accounting officer and wondered why the current government is breaching the law and creating the impression that the EFCC operates at its beck and call.

“We have perused the entire corpus of the EFCC Act and particularly the part II from section 6 down to section 7, and we are unable to sight which provision makes it imperative for the head of the agency to always take direct instructions from the presidency on who to go after whilst carrying out their functions in line with the principle of the rule of law. The only sub-provision that speaks to the issue of an interface with the executive is that which requires that the EFCC maintains a liaison with the office of the Attorney General of the federation amongst other Para-military and security agencies. There is no provision that states that the Head of the EFCC should often be found with the President or his vice to hold consultations and if any of such interpretation is held by the presidency for always interfering in the affairs of the EFCC, then this must stop forthwith.”

“May we by this statement urge the presidency to stop influencing the operations of the anti-graft body and allow them to effectively go after corrupt public officials. The Current politically motivated attacks directed at the leading opposition political party and the states controlled by the PDP will if not stopped, completely rubbish the integrity of the mechanisms for anti-graft battle”.

HURIWA recalled that the enabling law states as follows:  Commission shall be responsible for: - the enforcement and the administration of the provisions of this Act; the investigation of all financial crimes including advance fee fraud. Money laundering, counterfeiting, illegal charge transfers, futures market fraud. Fraudulent encashment of negotiable instruments, computer credit card fraud, contract scam, etc.; the co-ordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws and enforcement functions conferred on any other person or authority; the adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from terrorist activities. Economic and financial crime related offences or the properties the value of which corresponds to such proceeds; the adoption of measures to eradicate the commission of economic and financial crimes; the adoption of measures which include co-ordinated preventive and regulatory actions, introduction and maintenance of investigative and control techniques on the prevention of economic and financial related crimes.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Dismissal of DG of DSS: HURIWA applauds Presidency.


“The dismissal of the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Mallam Lawal Daura by the presidency is one of the best things to have happened in the last three years even as the removed DG of DSS must be prosecuted for treason and attempted takeover of government.”

With the above affirmation, the prominent Non-Governmental Organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo for swiftly adopting measures to bring to an end the grave threat to democracy.

“We are delighted to read that the Acting President on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari has removed from office the Director General of DSS for the illegal invasion of the National Assembly which amounted to a travesty of the principle of rule of law.

"This action of the presidency has indeed prevented the imminent total collapse of constitutional democracy which the invasion of the National Assembly by the armed security forces amounted to. We must safeguard democracy.”

HURIWA recalled that Section 1 and 4 of the constitution stated thus:

"Section 1 (1,2):- This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria; The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.

HURIWA said the constitution does not permit such unconstitutional invasion of the Federal parliament because Section 4:- states that: "The legislative powers of the federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives; The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of this constitution; The power of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List shall, save as otherwise provided in this constitution, be to the exclusion of the Houses of Assembly of States; In addition and without prejudice to the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section, the National Assembly shall have power to make laws with respect to the following matters, that is to say :-  any matter in the concurrent legislative list set out in the first column of part II of the Second Schedule to this constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this constitution."

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Invasion of National Assembly by DSS is unconstitutional – HURIWA


A prominent non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described as unconstitutional and treasonous, the invasion of the precinct of the National Assembly by masked armed operatives of Department of State Service (DSS) and the police.

The Rights group has for the umpteenth time warned the executive branch of government which controls armed security forces to stop forthwith the desecration of the legislative arm of government with the subterranean motive to unseat the leadership of the National Assembly.

HURIWA faulted the invasion of the National Assembly by the armed security forces when their presence was not occasioned by any official invitation by either the principal officers of the National Assembly namely the Senate President, the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, the Deputy Senate President; the Deputy Speaker or the Clerk of the National Assembly. 

HURIWA has warned the rebellious All progressives congress Senators plotting to illegally unseat the constituted authority to know that their illegality will not have the constitutional force of legitimacy and therefore any outcomes of their deliberations for a regime change amounts to an unmitigated illegality which remains null, void of no moment. 

In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA called on the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and European Union to use their collective influences as world leaders of democracy to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from using armed security forces to arm twist and undermine the independence of the legislature.

“We strongly condemn this disgraceful conduct of these armed security operatives of the Department of State Services under the direct control of the presidency who invaded the National Assembly and inflicted serious breaches of the fundamental rights of freedom of movement and association of legitimately elected law makers only because they are of the political persuasion different from that of the President who is the head of another branch of government."

"The illegal moves by the presidency to use the force of arm and crude tactics to force open the National Assembly is unconstitutional, despicable and reprehensible.”

“We are by this media statement calling on all Nigerians to speak out and take all legal and constructive measures to ensure that the presidency is not permitted to scuttle legislative independence by using fewer members of the upper legislative chamber to impeach the senate leadership who are of the Peoples Democratic Party.”

“Apart from constituting a grave threat to constitutional democracy, the invasion of the premises of the National Assembly is nothing short of a military coup which is absolutely intolerable and must be rejected by millions of Nigerians.”

Monday, 6 August 2018

HURIWA to APC Senators: Don’t destroy Nigeria’s democracy

A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has cautioned All Progressive Congress (APC) Senators not to allow unbridled quest and unrestrained cravings to unseat senate leadership to lead to the invitation of military coupists by you in Nigeria.

The Rights group cautioned the different divides within the Senate made up largely of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop over-heating the polity over the cross carpeting of the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki from APC to PDP alongside other erstwhile APC – elected legislators who recently left their party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

HURIWA recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari just before embarking on the recent 10-days medical vacation to the United kingdom met some APC senators in the Presidential Villa accompanied by the National leadership of the All progressives congress just as the participants told State House reporters that they will take action within their powers to ensure that the Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki relinquished his seat which the National Chairman of APC dramatically described as the crown of his political party.

Condemning as outrageous and an indirect invitation to chaos and anarchy which may motivate over-ambitious soldiers to destroy democracy, the speculated plots by some aggrieved APC Senators loyal to President Buhari who are said to be planning the illegal recovering of the Senate Chambers this week, the prominent Civil Rights organization has therefore called for circumspection on the parts of the President and the APC senators.

Urging for calm and respect to the constitutional provisions regarding the separation of powers, the Rights group stated that any extralegal move by the All Progressives Congress Senators to forcefully reconvene the senate which is on two months recess amounts to a direct threat to constitutional democracy and would make Nigeria's constitutional democracy vulnerable to the attacks of politically ambitious elements in the military institutions who may be tempted to strike and to destabilize the fragile and young civil rule that all patriots have worked resolutely to institutionalize.

“We are worried by the avalanche of news reports regarding the plots by some renegade senators to invade the hallowed chambers of the senate without lawful authorization by the legally constituted hierarchy of the upper chambers, with the clandestine motive to overthrow the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki the Senate President and his Deputy professor Ike Ekweremadu. We are worried by the naked show of crude force by the national chairman of APC and some senators who against all known laws and legislative conventions have threatened to forcefully reopen the senate chambers so as to enable the renegade senators to institute a regime change following the threats by the presidency and the All Progressives Congress to take all measures to restore the senate leadership to the party that produced the president which, is APC. Any attempt outside rule 12 of the Senate Rule granting powers to reconvene from recess of the Senate in the hands of the presiding officers of Senate President and his Deputy, would amount to high treason which has the potential of destabilizing civil rule."

In a media statement authorized by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA condemned the open threats by the APC's leadership against the senate leadership even when according to the Rights group, there are legally stated mechanisms of effecting regime change which is strictly the function of the law makers when they are in a properly convoked session which must be summoned by either the senate president or his deputy in line with known precepts governing the National Assembly.”

HURIWA reminded that those they described as rebellious APC senators to note that under the Constitution, there are in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria a total of 109 Senators, all directly elected by the electorates of their different constituencies for the duration of 4 years.

HURIWA recalled that that; "The chamber is convened by a proclamation issued by the President of the Federation. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that after 4 years from the date of the first sitting, the Senate stands dissolved. We are of the considered opinion that the externally induced crisis in the Senate instigated by the Presidency is an extra legal attempt to dissolve the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because the unconstitutional change of leadership will inevitably cripple the activities of the Senate and deny Nigeria of the constitutional functions and mandates of the Senate which is an integral part of the central legislative mechanisms necessary for law making for the good governance of Nigeria".

HURIWA stated that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be dissolved before the end of its session even as it reminded the presidency that legally the two Houses (Senate and House of Representatives) have equal legislative competence. Every bill passed by either House has to be passed by the other House in identical form before it can be forwarded to the President for assent.
Continuing, HURIWA affirmed this: " Going through a relevant laws and statutes we are clearly told that the Senate is expected to sit for a total of 181 days in a year just as the Senate has as an oversight functions of the investigation of the implementation of the Annual Budgets by Executive Departments and the Supervision of Nigeria’s Foreign Policies by passing into legality treaties entered into by the country.

HURIWA stated that it must be legally noted that the Senate also approves Diplomatic and Ministerial Appointments, Judiciary Appointments and Removal of Judicial Officers at the Federal level. It also approves States and Local Governments creation and amends the constitution when necessary.

HURIWA also asserted that the functions of the presiding officers of Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are; Chairing the plenary sessions of the Chamber and the committees of the whole Senate; Ruling on Points of Order; Final interpretation of the Chambers rules; Appointment of Chairs and members of the committees in consultation with the committee of selection, which he chairs; He is the Chairman of joint sessions of the two Chambers and he represents the National Assembly at ceremonial occasions.”

HURIWA said on no account should the partisan contentions between the APC and PDP be allowed to destroy civil rule in Nigeria just the Rights group asked Nigerians not to maintain conspiratorial silence and allow the leadership of APC to destroy a very important institution of democracy such as the National Assembly to install puppets and stooges of the Presidency as the Presiding officers of the National Assembly.