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Thursday, 18 February 2016


A civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (Huriwa) has cautioned the Federal Government to halt any plan to seek for foreign credit facility to the tune of $600 million for the purpose of launching satellites in the orbits by the year 2018.

The rights group which criticized government for going cap in hand to the international community for loan facility of such a humongous amount of money for the satellite project said the previous initiatives undertaken by the successive federal administrations beginning with the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo –led administration have yielded almost no tangible benefits to the living conditions of Nigerians just as the country has spectacularly failed to make commercial profits by way of getting other African nations to commission Nigeria to undertake scientific research making use of the previously launched satellite at serious costs to the citizenry.

According to HURIWA in a media statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, “the current practice of the government scouting around for credit facilities to embark on white elephant projects is detrimental to our economic sovereignty because the debts are capable of enslaving our generations yet unborn more so when what the credit facilities are to be used for lacks commercial viability.”

HURIWA wrote thus: “As an organization made up of persons with creative entrepreneurial talents we fully appreciate the enormous gains of embarking on space technology. We are aware that many common everyday services such as weather forecasting, remote sensing, GPS systems, satellite television and some long distance communications systems critically rely on space infrastructure. But we are worried that those who have over the years sat on the administrative hierarchy of the Nigerian communications satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and officials manning the nation's Space Technology Research Institute have severally failed the transparency and accountability test. How come the country is yet to fully benefit commercially from the previous effort at launching about five satellites on the orbit but here we are again playing with the dangerous idea of borrowing so much from China to commission the same China to assist us launch these satellites?”

HURIWA said it read with considerable consternation and shock that the Nigerian government is seeking $600 million loan for two prospective satellite project.

HURIWA recalled that the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this after an inspection of facilities at the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited in Abuja stated that two foreign companies, including the Chinese Exim Bank are willing to assist the country fund these new projects, adding that once government secures the fund before the next two years, “we will have these satellites in orbit.”

He said: “To have an extra satellite, you will be talking of about $300 million, we are looking for that. Certainly if we can get enough funding for two satellites, I will prefer that. Two foreign companies including the China Exim Bank are willing to assist us fund this new projects.”

The Rights group said that borrowing from China or any multilateral funding agency a long or short term loans to prosecute satellite project that Nigeria wouldn't utilise to raise our revenue profile or even developed our indigenous Space Technology is as good as investing in capital flight which would benefit only foreign jurisdictions.

HURIWA recalled that the National Space Research and Development Agency of Nigeria (NASRDA) said it has launched five satellites so far into outer space.

The Nigeriasat -1 was the first Nigerian satellite and built by a United Kingdom based satellite technology company- Survey Space Technology Limited (SSTL LTD) under the Nigerian government sponsorship for $30 million.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Girl Child Rights have hitherto been ignored across the country. Rapid population growth characterized by poverty and food insecurity has resulted in demand continuous for child labor to enhance agricultural productivity and fortify domestic services.

The Rights of most Nigeria Children are far from being respected despite the country’s signing to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1999 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that Nigeria signed in 2001.

As confirmed by UNICEF, trafficking of girl children for the purpose of domestic service, prostitution and other forms of exploitative labor remains widespread in Nigeria. In Nigeria, hapless young women and girls in the age bracket of 10-21 years have fallen victims of human trafficking as they are deceptively procured by some barons through their Nigerian agents who traffic them to different countries abroad where they suffer sexual exploitation, emotional distress, disorientation, depression and sometimes death.

Despite the fact that the Child Rights Acts was specific on rape and other forms of abuses directed at girl children, cases of sexual harassment against girls as domestic servants remain rampant in Nigeria.

Instead of moral support, proper up-binging, good education and respect for Child Rights, thousands of girl children are enslaved by parents or guardians to engage as domestic workers or forced to early marriage across the country, primarily to mitigate socio-economic challenges facing their families as against AU Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which promotes right to live and personal integrity. Section 33 and 35 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria promotes rights to live and personal liberty respectively; same with 2003 International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions on Child Rights.

Poverty, high level of illiteracy, existing socio-cultural resistance, inadequate awareness, have threatened efforts to address challenges facing girl child in the country. Consequently, girls are paid maximum of N10, 000 monthly for domestic services. This is not isolated from unwarranted utilization and abuses through frequent beating and raping by their employers.

Experiences have revealed that many households in Nigeria are incapable of caring for another man’s child; they employ the services of house-helps who they (employers) subject to horrible experiences.

There have several reported cases of dehumanization, abuse, rapping and violation launched by employers against their house-helps across the country. These include infliction of injurious scars in their body; over-utilization through restless and long working hours; regular panicking arising from frantic state of mind; and sometimes, death.

It is time to demand for full implementation by all levels of governments, various regulations/laws backing child rights including access to education, to encourage and re-install personal liberty and dignity of girl child. There is need for concerted efforts by all level of governments, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), civil society, Community Based Organizations, Faith Based Organizations to effectively combat human trafficking scourge and abuses against girl child.

Strengthening Nigeria’s criminal justice system to checkmate abuses and violation against girl child has become imperative.  Creation of massive employment opportunities and workable poverty alleviation structures across the country will help to avert girl child labor and early marriage for a living.

All level of governments should improve access to education and eliminating gender gaps in education, proper individual orientation, mass public awareness and sensitization on the provisions of the Child Right Act. Also it is important to institute effective rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration programmes through medical, psychological and legal services for the victims of child labor, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Tola Ojo

Wuye, Abuja.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Killing of peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in Aba is Genocide- HURIWA Tells Army Chief; Amnesty International
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria  (HURIWA ) has written to the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai and the global office of Amnesty International to call their attention to the genocide by Nigerian security forces that occurred few days back in Aba, Abia State when nearly a dozen peaceful would-be pro-Biafra protesters were killed during a pre-rally prayer session.
HURIWA which recently visited the Army Chief to work out possible areas of collaborative partnership to promote and protect human rights of Nigerians told the top military commander  that it was imperative that soldiers and/or police operative who shot and killed those unarmed protesters in Aba Abia State are identified, arrested, prosecuted and punished for these dastardly crimes against humanity.  
The Rights group told the Army Chief that since he gave the civil society community the assurances that his leadership wouldn't tolerate impunity and extrajudicial killings he must see this particular case as a litmus test to prove to the World that he meant business when he promised to maintain respect for human rights and that his operatives will stick to the Rules of engagement and best global practices in all internal security operations. HURIWA reminded the Army Chief that Nigeria Military is already contending with adverse human rights image internationally and it would do the military institution a lot of good if culprits are sanctioned for human rights violations.
Turning to the Amnesty International, HURIWA has also written a separate letter which it despatched to the United Kingdom global  office of Amnesty International in which it accused the Nigerian office of Amnesty International of paying advocacy focus only to the plight of suspected Boko Haram terrorists but looking the other way whilst unarmed pro-Biafra supporters are massacred through state sponsored terrorism.  
HURIWA said it was a case of genocide that civilians are gunned down even whilst praying just because of their support for the release from prolonged incarceration of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra  (IPOB) Mr Nnamdi Kanu. HURIWA accused the Mr Bem Angwe led Nigeria  National Human Rights Commission of bias for keeping undignified silence whilst federal security forces turned their deadly weapons on unarmed Igbo protesters.  
The Rights group had also appealed for quick dispensation of justice or freedom for the detained erstwhile Military Assistant to erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Nicholas Ashinze who has now been transferred to a military facility in ASOKORO Abuja from the EFCC after eight weeks of detention withouttrial.  The letter is as follows:
13th February, 2016.

The Chief of Army Staff
Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai NAM GSS PSC (+) ndc (BD) BA(HONS) MA Mphil
Army Headquarters 
Garki Area 8,
Abuja, Nigeria.
Dear Sir,
We write to officially commend you for throwing your doors open to us in the Civil/Human Rights Community to interface with your good offices to seek for ways of mainstreaming respect for the fundamental Human Rights of Nigerians in the Internal Military Operations of your operatives.
If you recall, during our last visit to your office we promised to always constructively interface with your good offices to seek for quick investigations of alleged Human Rights breaches that may occur in internal security operations of your operatives.
We hereby write to call your attention to the recent unprovoked killing of unarmed civilian protesters by some military operatives in Aba, Abia State because they ( armed security forces) suspected that the civilian peaceful protesters were agitating for the Biafra self rule as preached by the indigenous people of Biafra- an organization whose directed (half British/half Nigerian) Mr. NNAMDI KANU was arrested and detained for over three months and is currently undergoing prosecution in Abuja.
We hereby state without any shadow of doubt that these killings of scores of civilians in Aba, Abia State by security forces/military only because they were intending to participate in a Pro-Biafra Rally, is totally unlawful and unconstitutional because chapter four of the Nigerian constitution gives the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression to all citizens. These extralegal killing must be investigated and the culprits charged to appropriate legal forum for these crime against humanity.
The second matters is the prolonged detention without trial of a serving colonel NICHOLAS ASHINZE who was picked up by EFCC kept in detention without trial for seven weeks and was reported released to the military high command and is  said to be under arrest at a military facility.
We urge you to kindly look into this issue because Nigeria’s image is at stake if citizens are unduly detained without proper charges filed and without them be granted administrative bail
We have taken our time as human rights defenders to write your good offices to use your powers to ensure that the fundamental human rights of this Nigerian –Colonel Nicholas Ashinze is not unduly violated. We hereby present to you legal reason why the prolonged detention without trial is unconstitutional.
The Nigerian Constitution provides that where a person is charged with a crime, he is to be presented within 48 hours before a court to face charges. Anything contrary to this amounts to a breach of the person’s fundamental human rights.

A suspect /Nigerian citizen detained has time limits which is contained in part 30 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 under section 294; states that (1) where the Court, after examining the reason for the request for remand in accordance with the provisions of sections 293 of this Act, is satisfied that there is probable cause to remand the suspect pending the receipt of a copy of the legal advice from the Attorney -General of the Federation and arraignment of the suspect before the appropriate court, as the case may be, may remand the suspect in custody.
(2) In considering whether the remand of a suspect pursuant to subsection (1) of the ACJA, the court may take into consideration the following:
(a) The nature and seriousness of the alleged offence.
(b) Reasonable grounds to suspect the suspect has been involved in the commission of the alleged offence.
(c) Reasonable grounds for believing that the suspect may abscond or commit further offence where he is not committed to custody; and
(d) Any other circumstances of the case that justifies the request for remand.
In section 295 of ACJA, the Court may, in considering an application for remand brought, grant bail to the suspect before it. The order of remand of the suspect shall be for a period not exceeding fourteen days, in the first instance.
Also where, on application in writing, good cause is shown why there should be an extension if the Tenancy period, the Court may make an order for further remand of the suspect not exceeding fourteen days.
Again, where at the end of the expiration of the period of remand, the court may on application of the suspect grant bail in accordance with Sections 158& 188 of ACJA.
Also note that at the expiration of the remand, with his trial not commenced yet, or charge having not been filed at the relevant court having jurisdiction, the Court shall issue a hearing notice on
(a) The Inspector General of Police and the Attorney -General of the Federation; or
(b) The Commissioner of Police of the state, or the FCT or the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Furthermore, where good cause is not shown for the continued remand of the suspect, the Court shall with or without application to the effect, discharge the suspect and he released from custody immediately. Note that, no further application for remand shall be entertained.
With increased interest in International Human Rights, the United Nations International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)under Article 14.3 stipulates that those tried on a criminal charge are entitled to a trial without undue delay. Requiring a speedy trial minimizes the period of pre-trial detention. In addition, accused persons may only be detained before trial where there is reasonable suspicion that they have committed an offence and where the authorities have substantial reasons to believe that if released, they would abscond or commit a more serious offence or interfere with the course of justice. The criminal justice system should resort to pre-trial detention only when alternative measures are unable to address the concerns that justify the use of such detention.
In Bayo Johnson vs. A.G of Lagos State (1997) Suit No. CA/L/334M/97 the Court of Appeal held unequivocally that Section 236(3) of the Lagos State Criminal Procedure Law, which permitted the use of remand order was unconstitutional.
In laying down the law, the court made the following monumental statement:
“Before an accused is brought before the court, it should be assumed that the case is ripe for hearing, not for further investigation. He must not be there on mere suspicion which cannot be regarded as reasonable suspicion under section 35 of the Constitution.”
It becomes quite clear that there is no constitutional basis for this practice and hence it can and should be avoided.
The audit of the Human Rights Commission on Nigerian prisons indicated that in the South East zone, 2526 were on holding charge with Owerri prison holding 1,179 of this category of detainees. Furthermore, in North East Zone, about 465 detainees were on holding charge. 300 of this category of detainees were found in Bauchi Prison. In the South West zone, they were 1154 with 330 found in Medium prison Akure; 4,914 were found in the South South zone, with 2543, 811,469 in Port Harcourt, MSP Oko, and Ugwashi-Uku respectively. Similarly, in the North West zone, they were 1600, with 795 found in Kano prison; while in the North Central, they were 368 detainees on holding charge.  This is despite the fact that there is no provision of any law to support this action.
Olisa Agbakoba lamenting on the situation of Nigerian prisoners engaged in a recital of rhetoric:
Our objectives are;
v   To deploy the members’ creative talents as writers to promote, protect and project the human rights of all Nigerians and other law abiding citizens resident within Nigeria;

v   To organize periodic seminars and training workshops locally for human capital development specifically on the tenets and ideals of Human Rights and the rule of Law;

v   To attend International Workshops and Seminars targeted at the promotion and protection of human rights;

v   To conduct periodic studies on ways, means and strategies for promoting and protecting human rights of law abiding citizens;

v   To highlight human rights challenges confronting the persons in conflict with the law and seek for constructive modalities for redressing such violations; and

v   To recognize excellence and good governance standards in the polity through yearly award ceremonies for exceptionally good, tested and trusted leaders in both the corporate and public sectors. The process of selection would be by transparent mass participation strategies.  

Be assured of our highest esteem and consideration.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator


The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss immediately the Information and Cultural Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed for his offensive comments on the quality of weapons in use by Nigeria in the ongoing counter-terror war.

In a media statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the rights group said it would amount to tolerating impunity and reckless talk if Mr. President should either fail to sack the information minister or impose some form of deterrent administrative sanctions for his careless talk which endangers national security of Nigeria.

Also, the Rights group said the false allegation made against the immediate past federal administration by the information minister on the quality of weapons bought for the counter-terror war could be the single motivational factor that has encouraged Boko Haram Terrorists to embark on a renewed onslaught and bombing campaign targeted against soft civilian targets and military facilities in the theater of war because they believe what a top ranking minister of the current government said regarding the state of the combat weapons.

HURIWA also affirmed that “it is shocking and disappointing  that soon after Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the sensational and politically charged statement alleging that President Jonathan bought substandard weapons which are used for counter terror war, the Boko Haram elements who were hitherto said to have been technically degraded emerged from their hideouts and commenced ferocious attacks in Borno, Adamawa States with the high casualties including the complete razing down of Dalori town near Maiduguri and the burning to death of dozens of children. The president must sanction his minister of information for putting the lives of both our soldiers and civilians at risk.”

The Rights group said it was wrong for the information minister who has little or no classified information on the auditing of the standards of Nigeria’s military combat weapons to carelessly issue and circulate media statement to run down the nation’s hard working soldiers by his politically -motivated but largely unsubstantiated allegation that Nigeria’s soldiers are fighting terrorists with substandard weapons bought by the last government.

The group commended the Defence headquarters for courageously and professionally telling Nigerians that our soldiers are combat ready and are indeed battling the terrorists with standard weapons.

The Rights group therefore warned the information minister to stop playing politics with the serious national security matter such as the ongoing counter terrorism war.

But the Nigerian military has dismissed insinuations by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed that troops are using inferior weapons procured by the past administration of former President, Goodluck Jonathan in its fight against insurgency in the North-East.

Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar debunked Mohammed’s claim while speaking on Africa Independent Television, AIT.

Abubakar said, “What I know is that we are using equipment which is okay for us. We have been achieving results. What I know is that we have equipment that can take us to where we are going. However, you cannot say you have everything you need for your operations. Even the developed nations’ Armed Forces lack one thing or the other.”

HURIWA, therefore, urge President Muhammadu Buhari to warn his cabinet ministers to stop playing sycophantic politics with the counter terrorism war.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to immediately order the investigation into the procurement mechanism at the Niger Delta Amnesty office since the assumption of office.
Few months ago, there was allegation on the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Office, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd), following widespread allegations of serious violations of due process and abuses of procurement law in the purchase of exotic bullet proof cars, and the payments of outrageous fees to a largely unknown firm (Westerfield) company to coach some repentant ex- militants preparatory to writing The Joint Admissions and Matriculation of Board (JAMB) examination.

HURIWA has also expressed serious concern that at the time President Buhari is reportedly preaching strict adherence to the procurement Act to avoid corruption and economic crime, a key appointee of the president was allegedly given unfettered permission to embark on “spending bazaar and bonanza of frivolous purchases of highly exorbitant and exotic bullet proof (armoured) cars even when widespread reports of forceful repatriation of beneficiaries of the Amnesty Office’s foreign educational scholarship schemes for failure to meet financial and tuitions of these ex-militants have emerged embarrassingly.”

HURIWA stated in a media statement issued yesterday by by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf,  that it was shocking that the erstwhile Aviation Minister, Mrs. Stella Oduah, is still being prosecuted by the EFCC at the Federal High Court for allegedly frittering millions of public fund to purchase exotic armoured cars which attracted public outcry, while Boroh proceeded to purchase exotic armoured SUV for his official use even when he inherited a standard brand new cars.

The rights group noted that it amounts to extravagant expenditures of the most crudely and inordinate form for the Special Adviser to President Buhari who is serving a government battling to come to terms with how to meet up with the welfare needs of Nigerians to now be seen to have actually blown away N48 billion within few months of his appointment.
 “Among the frivolities include official cars, when he actually reportedly inherited from his predecessor, Mr Kingsley Kuku, a brand new Toyota Land cruiser,” it alleged.

HURIWA stated that the idea of hiring an untested coaching  firm (Westerfield) to coach prospective undergraduates on how to pass university admission test makes nonsense of the transparency and accountability threshold of a democratic government “when it is a notorious fact that Nigeria is richly endowed with good and credible teaching staff who can guide prospective students preparatory to eventual university admissions at affordable professional fees which would save cost.

 “How on earth can an official of the government who has told the world that it needs to borrow from World Bank to pay public workers to now be identified as a man who loves ostentatious lifestyle at the expense of the distressed beneficiaries of this Niger Delta Amnesty Programme?
“President Buhari must ensure that the relevant agencies of law enforcement and anti-graft agencies are allowed to immediately swing into action to recover this scarce public fund being frittered away on frivolous items by the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, Boroh.

“This unmitigated extravagance must be effectively checked and all indicted officials made to face the full wrath of the law. The fact that the office of the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme seeks to justify these outrageous expenditures which may have violated extant procurement and transparency laws is abominable and unacceptable.”

HURIWA condemned the act saying: “This is reprehensible and totally condemnable. These series of near sleazy acquisitions by a public official at this troubling financial time is unsustainable and must be questioned by the anti corruption authorities because these purchases are clear breaches of the Nigerian monetisation policy and is a breach of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act because a special adviser isn’t allowed to reach such a phenomenal thresholds of authorising payments for multimillion projects and purchases.”
Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently order the investigation of the alleged N48 billion reportedly spent by the office of his Adviser on Niger Delta and Coordinator of Amnesty Programme, retired Brigadier General Paul Boroh since he assumed office.
The Presidential Amnesty Programme under the leadership of its new Coordinator, Brigadier-General Boro (Rtd) has allegedly blown away N48 billion within few months of his appointment on sundry expenditures including exotic armoured cars, in spite the dwindling economic fortunes of the country currently.
The association said there have been widespread allegations of serious violations of due process and the consequential abuses of procurement law by the Amnesty Office in the last couple of months, adding that unmitigated extravagance must be effectively checked and all indicted officials made to face the full wrath of the law.
The group added that the fact that the office of the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme seeks to justify these outrageous expenditures which by and large may have violated extant procurement and transparency laws is abominable and unacceptable in the first place.
HURIWA said the series of such near sleazy acquisitions by a public official, particularly when viewed against the present troubling financial times in Nigeria is reprehensible, condemnable and unsustainable.
The association further noted that the trend must be questioned by the anti-corruption authorities because the purchases are allegedly clear breaches of the Nigerian monetization policy as well as a breach of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act since a Special Adviser is not allowed to reach such a phenomenal thresholds of authorizing payments for projects and purchases amounting to multi-million naira.
The group also queried the idea of paying outrageous amount to Westerfield, a local firm to offer  pre-University Matriculation Examination (UME) lessons to repentant ex militants preparatory to writing  the University Matriculation Examination  (JAMB) this year.
“Moreover why pay over N500 million to an offshore consultancy firm to prepare would-be beneficiaries of the Niger Delta amnesty programme when a lot of final year students who are undergoing scholarships abroad are being recalled for lack of funds to foot their tuition fees. This is an unmitigated and an unpardonable misadventure”, HURIWA said in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf.
The association equally expressed shock over the whopping figures revealed in the annual report, which the two Senate committees was scheduled to have reviewed along with the Amnesty Office’s 2016 budget  of the Amnesty Office  last week which indicated that Boro who took over from Kingsley Kuku as Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty Programme under the current administration, in just five months awarded contracts worth about N40 billion.
“The exotic official car was reportedly acquired from Wada Autos Limited at the princely sum of N55 million and full payment has since been made. How on Earth can an official of government that has told the World that it needs to borrow from World Bank to even pay public workers to now be identified as a man who loves ostentatious lifestyle at the expense of the distressed beneficiaries of this Niger Delta Amnesty Programme?
“President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that the relevant agencies of law enforcement and anti-graft agencies are allowed to immediately swing into action to recover these scarce public fund that are being frittered away on frivolous items by the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme Brigadier General Boro”, the group further admonished.
The group observed that the present administration of President Buhari which is demonstrably  preaching strict adherence to the procurement Act to avoid corruption and economic crime that have almost crippled the economy of the country, cannot afford to keep a blind eye to this ugly development.

“It amounts to extravagant expenditures of the most crudely and inordinate form for the Special Adviser to President who is serving a government battling to come to terms with how to meet up with the welfare needs of the millions of Nigerians and build enduring infrastructures for posterity  because of fast dwindling falling asking international prices of crude oil to now be seen to have actually blown away N48 billion within few months of his appointment on frivolities including official cars when he actually reportedly inherited from his predecessor Mr Kingsley Kuku a brand new Toyota Land cruiser”, HURIWA  stressed.