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Monday, 15 June 2015


A pro-democracy Non-Governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has dismissed as substantially speculative and unsubstantiated, allegations bandied by a civil society group against the speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu.
Specifically, a group by the name The Youth for Human Rights Protection and Transparency Initiative (YARPTI) based on a complaint by an Owerri based activist and blogger Mr. Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha has reportedly petitioned the President elect General Muhammadu Buhari(GCFR) urging him not to consider the outgoing speaker of the Imo State parliament Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu for a ministerial appointment because of allegations of widespread corruption and involvement in ritual killings.
HURIWA said whilst it acknowledged that allegations of fraud and the weighty matter of ritual killings merits thoroughbred forensic crime investigations, it does also believe in the constitutional imperative that mere allegations not evidential and concretely established by a competent judicial forum remains just within the realm of conjectures and speculations and this is not sufficiently weighty to deny a person any national assignment by the Nigerian state which is usually made based of merit, competence and professional excellence.
But in a statement after a painstaking investigation conducted by a four member team that visited parts of Imo State, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) dismissed those allegations as unfounded and lacking in concrete body of proofs even as it has urged the National Human Rights Commission to step into the matter and institutionally restrain the leadership of the Youth for human rights protection and transparency Initiative (YARPTI) from further scandalizing and damaging the credibility of the person of the speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu through the circulation of stories on the internet that lacks evidential authentication. HURIWA urged the petitioners to wait for a determination of any subsisting investigations if any before jumping into hasty conclusions that Mr. Uwajumogu is allegedly corrupt and implicated in cases of ritual killings.
The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko who signed the media release alongside the National Director of media Affairs Miss Zainab Yusuf disclosed that from extensive investigation within the various security and judiciary institutions in Imo State, there emerged a clearer picture of the fact that the person of the Imo State speaker Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu may likely be a victim of political witch hunt and choreographed blackmail with the underlying objective of denying him a possible ministerial slot should the incoming Nigerian President General Muhammadu Buhari decides to appoint him to represent Imo State in the next executive council of the federation. HURIWA also stated that an unproven allegation does not constitute a criminal conviction which can then be used as a valid reason to deny the indicted person of higher national office.
“The police authority in Imo State told us in black and white that there is no shred of evidence to support the sensational claims that the Imo State speaker is corrupt or is remotely connected to any established case of ritual killings in Imo State. We call for caution whilst we wait for the determination by a competent law enforcement body and the judicial institution of the allegations of fraud and/or involvement in ritual killings. As a human rights platform we believe in the principle of Rule of Law and Fair Hearing even as we are opposed to media trial of even the most high profile politically exposed persons. We believe that all Nigerian citizens irrespective of their status or class must enjoy all the fundamental rights enshrined in chapter four of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended ) and must not be unduly and unjustly demonised just because we do not like his face or his phenomenal rise to political positions. We must back our allegations with unassailable body of facts and figures so we are not seen as persons waging a political war of vendetta or blackmail".

The Rights group also praised the outgoing Imo State speaker for particularly championing the passage of many pro-poor legislations that fundamentally addresses major human Rights challenges confronting the good people of Imo State. HURIWA further called on the next legislature in Imo State to advance the respect of human rights of all citizens through people centred legislations.
HURIWA stated thus: “We are aware that the leader of the Imo State legislature actively supported the effort which culminated in the passage of the bill known as a law to prohibit baby racketeering through baby factory operations and every other arrangement by which babies are illegally transacted on, and other matters connected therewith”.
HURIWA has therefore appealed to genuine civil society practitioners to desist from allowing themselves to be contracted to do the biddings of political adversaries aimed at tarnishing the public Image of high profile politically exposed persons. HURIWA however charged committed activists not to feel threatened to play the altruistic role of unbiased whistle blowers for public good.
On the vote of confidence it passed on the Imo State speaker as a good and qualitative Nigerian to be made a minister under the change mantra of the incoming All Progressives Congress – led federal government, the Rights group stressed that Imo State witnessed rancor - free legislature/executive relationship in the last four years even as the state legislature never capitulated to the level of operating as puppets of the Imo State governor.
HURIWA recalled that the speaker of Imo legislature had severally denied these allegations and stated thus: “If we may ask, how much is the monthly subvention of the Imo State House of Assembly State to accommodate these claims. On what basis will the Speaker of a House of Assembly be responsible for award of Road contracts, much less the Chief of Staff to the Speaker.”

“The office of the Rt Hon. Speaker wishes to inform Imolites that the Rt Hon. Speaker, Rt Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu does not own any inch of land in Abuja or Lagos either in his name or by proxy as at 12th of March 2014 and is not negotiating to own any land in these places, the Rt Hon. Speaker remains in the Vanguard of those urging Imolites to invest here in Imo State.
We challenge anybody to bring evidence to the contrary.” HURIWA therefore said that until an independent body brings to a finality the determination of these range of allegations against the person of the Imo State Speaker he remains completely innocent in the eyes of the Nigerian Law and should be allowed to enjoy all privileges, Rights and duties /Responsibilities that his political party (APC) may be predisposed to assign him in the next political dispensation from May 29th 2015.

22 May 2015 

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