Huriwa Logo

Huriwa Logo

Monday, 24 September 2012


Nigerians are daily inundated with media drama by the security operatives of a variety of high profile arrests of suspects allegedly involved in a number of offences ranging from terrorism which is a present and potentially destabilizing danger to the existence of Nigeria to other serious cases such as crude oil theft and diversion and/or theft of subsidy fund by members of the seemingly untouchable crude oil cabals that are closely linked with high profile Government officials at the Federal level.
The Nigeria Police Force [NPF] are also known to have announced and celebrated in the local media, several high profile arrests of alleged Kidnapping kingpins but none of these alleged kidnappers has been convicted for this serious crime against humanity.
What makes these intermittent 'breakthroughs' by the security agents that are flamboyantly celebrated in the Nigerian media is that these announcements and the attendant sensational news coverage are just the only thing Nigerian public would be privileged to know because often, these same high profile suspects already paraded in the media by the security operatives are never really charged before the competent courts of law and if they are even brought to these courts and further disgraced in the media, the suspects end up walking out freely from the court rooms because either the security operatives are ill-prepared with quality proof of evidence to nail these suspects or the prosecution may have compromised with these high profile suspects to undermine the determination of these cases before the courts and the larger public are the worst for it because public fund allegedly stolen are never recovered fully and these alleged offenders are left to walk right back into public reckoning as members of the untouchable political and economic cabals.
September 14th 2012 therefore came just like any other politically charged day in Nigeria when the security operatives attached to a private security firm in Lagos linked to a former militant from the Niger Delta the birth place of President Jonathan announced that it has caught a 'big fish' in the person of the former Minister of Interior Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho for alleged conspiracy in the case of alleged storage by his farm tank of allegedly stolen crude oil, most discerning Nigerians took the sensational media story with a pinch of salt and most people murmured that Government has started with another phase of 'Government magic'.
The former interior minister was quoted in the media few weeks before his so-called arrest that the reported award to a private security firm linked to one of the former leaders of the then armed militants in the Niger Delta was wrong since the Nigerian Navy is the statutory arm of the Nigerian Security forces charged with the duty of safeguarding Nigeria's water ways.
President Jonathan is known to have publicly complaint that he is the most criticized President in the World and his body language in recent times shows him as a political leader that is now prepared to deal decisively with his so-called critics.
Many other people including this writer also criticized the award of security contract to this private security firm belonging to the ex-militant as the height of nepotism and therefore illegal and unconstitutional.
But he Presidency has defended the security contract handed down to the former militant leader in the Niger Delta.
The arrest of the former minister and the media celebration of his alleged involvement in the said alleged theft of crude oil is linked with his avowed opposition to the 'near-dubious' security contract awarded to a private Nigerian citizen to protect the water ways even when the Navy is heavily underfunded and deliberately undermined by the same system.
When the arrest of the former interior minister came to our notice, our group- HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) immediately addressed a media conference and totally condemned the alleged harassment and intimidation of the immediate past interior minister Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho by Nigerian Maritime And Safety Agency (NIMASA) over alleged storage of “stolen crude oil” (AGO CARGO) in the tank farm associated with the former minister of interior.
The manner of the arrest of the former minister to us is a total violation of the Fundamental Human Rights of a Nigerian citizen. We are aware of the widely circulated defence put up by the former minister whereby he cleared himself and company of involvement in the storage of the alleged stolen petroleum products.
The firm run by the former minister had claimed thus; “On Thursday the 13th September 2012, our management was surprised by the incidence of the vicious invasion of our Tank Farm facility at Ibafon by a group of uniformed armed men, numbering about thirty and purporting themselves to be acting on the orders and instructions of the D.G. NIMASA and allegedly of Mr. Tompolo, MD, of a private company GVWSL.”
The immediate past interior minister had also contrary to the allegation that his company was in breach of the law in storing the said petroleum products claimed thus; “In the course of the invasion, the intruders ransacked the entire tank farm complex, arresting and violently manhandling the workers at the complex, laying them flat on the floor, seizing their hands sets. At the end of the day, five members of the staff of the company were allegedly abducted and taken to NIMASA for interrogation and have since been transferred to the SSS at Shangisha where they were held incommunicado.”
As a human rights organization, we recognize the sanctity of fundamental human rights as enshrined in section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria of 1999 as amended. A Citizen alleged to be in breach of the law is innocent in the eye of the law until proven guilty by a competent court of law and must not be subjected to undue harassment or physical/psychological torture through the instrumentality of Government controlled power of coercion.
We are also against the media trial that was carried out against the former minister who we believe served this country creditably. If Government believes that his firm has indeed breached any extant law, Government is obliged to follow the due process of the law and not to use crude means that is akin to abduction of a citizen.
I am of the conviction that Nigeria must not return to the dark days of military brute force or crude application of the law. This allegation is serious and must be investigated by President Jonathan.
These serious allegations must be probed more so when report shows that the said petroleum products were validly cleared by all relevant authorities including the necessary inwards clearance documentation, issued by The Nigerian Navy, the Department of Petroleum Resources DPR, the Nigerian Port Authority and surprisingly, NIMASA.
Now that NIMASA has claimed that the clearance certificate paraded by the former interior minister is fake it therefore behooves the Federal Government to set up an independent panel to uncover the truth about the entire scenario.

+Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria blogs


No comments:

Post a Comment