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Monday, 16 January 2012


A pro-democracy group-the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, (HURIWA) has condemned the unnecessary show of military force by the overwhelming presence of armed soldiers on Lagos streets and other major cities to forestall peaceful protests by Nigerians still unhappy about the intransigence of the Federal Government to reverse the pump price of premium motor spirit to N65 per liter.

Convinced that the military deployment on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan was meant to intimidate and induce psychological fear on the minds of Nigerians not to venture out on the streets of Nigeria to ventilate their anger peacefully and democratically over the recent illegal hike of petrol, the Rights group urged President Jonathan to redirect the military deployment towards tackling the unprecedented violence and killing of innocent citizens by armed religious extremists in the North East region of the Country.

The Rights Group warned the armed soldiers already deployed in the streets of different cities across Nigeria to know that extra judicial execution of innocent civilians carries heavy penalty in the International Criminal Court [ICC] and that individuals responsible for such despicable crime are meant to face the music in their personal capacity.

HURIWA also accused the Federal government of engaging in empty rhetoric and chasing shadows in the war against corruption even as it criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] for comically waiting to be invited by the Minister of Petroleum Mrs. Alison Madueke before embarking on comprehensive investigation and prosecution of members of the crude oil cartel indicted in the forensic audit report in the running of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“This damaging audit report by an internationally reputable team of forensic auditors hired by the Federal Government has been in the possession of Government and even in public domain but the nation’s anti-graft agencies namely the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] and the Independent corrupt practices and other offences commission [ICPC] went to sleep and consequently failed to take action to bring the indicted culprits to face the full weight of the law in the competent courts of law but only waited to be so dramatically invited by the same Petroleum ministry so indicted in the audit report because the overwhelming opinion of Nigerians who demonstrated all over Nigeria in the last one week demanded immediate prosecution of the indicted ‘sacred cows. This is a public relation gambit of the Federal Government,” HURIWA affirmed.

Besides, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA advised President Jonathan to reverse the pump price of petrol to N65 since he has clearly admitted over-pricing the commodity when government on January 1st 2012 arbitrarily hiked the pump price of premium motor spirit to N142.05 per liter. The group argued that the decision by the President to reduce the pump price to N97 per liter is an open admission of gross error of judgment even as it urged President Jonathan to respect the popular opinion of the clear majority of Nigerians by returning it to N65 per liter.

On what it calls unconstitutional deployment of armed soldiers to psychologically torture Lagosians and other Nigerians not to demonstrate publicly any further, the Rights group in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media officer Miss. Zainab Yusuf said the military deployment is an abuse of sections 14(1) (a), (b) and (c); 40, and 41 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The Rights group said the peaceful nature of the protest in Lagos and Abuja among other places makes it impossible for the Federal government to rely on section 45 (1) of the constitution which makes provision for restriction on and derogation from fundamental rights for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.

HURIWA urged the Federal government to stop infringing on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Nigerian citizenry to demonstrate peacefully and lawfully.

Citing the heavy presence of armed soldiers in Lagos that have stopped would-be protesters from gathering at certain flashpoints and also the illegal confiscation by armed police of the occupy Nigeria’s Abuja space at Ascon filling station in Wuse two in the nation’s capital as instances of unconstitutional violation of the rights of Nigerians, HURIWA called for the withdrawal of these armed troops because of the danger inherent in driving opposition voices underground.

“We are worried that these illegal styles of military harassment and intimidation of unarmed civilians by armed soldiers are draw-backs to the despotic military era. These Gestapo military occupations of streets of major cities of Nigeria will inevitably drive voices of democratic opposition underground and this scenario will undermine the advancement of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria,” HURIWA asserted.            


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