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Thursday, 16 August 2012


HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, [HURIWA], a Civil Society Organization has thrown its weight behind the decision of the Bayelsa State Government to sign into law a state legislation titled Bayelsa State Symbols  and songs 2012 which authorizes the Bayelsa state Government to introduce a state anthem and flags for the people even as the Rights group has similarly backed the decision of a significant segment of the Ogoni People of River State to declare self government within the federation of Nigeria.

The Rights group in a statement by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Officer Miss. Zainab Yusuf said the decision by the Bayelsa State Government to so introduce the State symbols and Songs legislation has only fulfilled the social and cultural objectives embodied in chapter two of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as amended] and has in no way breached any extant provisions of the law or has it committed treasonable felony as wildly alleged by some critics. The group said the Bayelsa State decision should be applauded as one of the lawful ways to consolidate the correct and appropriate application of the principle of true federalism as encompassed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 [as amended].

The Rights group dismissed as selfish, pedestrian and unfounded, the recent private opinion of the outgoing National President of the Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] Chief Joseph Daudu[ SAN] which was elevated wrongly as the general opinion of the Nigerian Bar opposing the Bayelsa State and Ogoni peoples' actions. The group said the outgoing National President of the Nigerian Bar Association lacks the moral high ground to take on the Ogoni people since he had served previously under a military dictatorship as Federal Government appointed private prosecutor in the celebrated matter involving the state murdered Environmental Activist- Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The Human Rights body also carpeted the Kaduna based Senior Lawyer Alhaji Yunus Ustaz Usman who wrongly branded the decision of the Bayelsa State Government as treasonable felony just as the group tasked him to redirect his attention to the Northern State Governments including Kano State that have violated section 10 of the Constitution by setting up state Government sponsored Religious Police to enforce the precepts of a particular religious group even when the supreme law is clear that no Government should elevate a particular religion as state religion.

HURIWA said the criticism of the Bayelsa State government's decision especially by elite of particular section of the country was sectional, selective, unfounded, biased and wrong-headed and therefore should be consigned to the dustbin of history as jaundiced and unsound. "Senior lawyers like Daudu and Yunus Ustaz should intervene and make the Governors of some of these Northern States to respect the Nigerian Constitution by stopping all policies that promotes religious bigotry and alienate segments of their populations on the basis of their divergent religious views. why for instance will the Kano state Government use tax payers' money including federal allocations derived from valued added tax from sales of alcohols in other parts of the country to set up and fund a religious police with the mandate to enforce aspects of the practice and precepts of a particular religion and senior lawyers from the North simply kept quiet as if there was nothing wrong with this unacceptable and unconstitutional practice?"

HURIWA further reminded the critics of the action of the Bayelsa State Government to read sections 17 and 21 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also read part one Article one of the International Covenant on the civil and Political Rights which is an international law endorsed by Nigeria before rushing to draw conclusions that are half-baked, hypocritical, sectional, selective and absolutely defective in law and facts.

Specifically part one, Article One of the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights recognizes the right of any ethnic nationality to; "Self Determination including the rights to freely determine their political status, pursue their economic, social and cultural goals and manage and dispose of their own resources".

HURIWA therefore believes that neither Bayelsa State Government nor the section of the Ogoni people have breached any extant provisions of the Nigerian law since none of these entity has declared secession from the federation of Nigeria as presently constituted.


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