The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as unprecedented the suffocation and suppression the systematic oppression of alternative views and freedoms of expression generally in Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group said there was the need for the international community to step up the campaign globally to stop the forced disappearances and arbitrary incarceration of Nigerians only because they hold different views from those of the President and some dictatorial governors.
“HURIWA regrets to state that since the last five years, the current administration has turned Nigeria into a big prison yard with all sorts of arbitrariness, extrajudicial executions of persons by security forces and the clamp down on political views that are diametrically opposed to those of the powers that be. It is sad that many critics and journalists have disappeared and or arrested and detained by security forces for years without fair trials.”
It listed Katsina, Abia, Kano and Kaduna states as places whereby Nigerians with divergent political or religious beliefs and views from those of the establishments have had their fundamental freedoms crushed through unwarranted physical attacks and arbitrary detention adding that Abia State is uniquely unfortunate given that both the police and the office of the state Attorney General have become torture chambers somewhat psychologically and these offices are deployed illegally to witch-hunt persons who hold different opinions from those of the state Governor.
HURIWA has also asked the Abia State Chief Judge to stop the abuses of the judicial process in the persecution of Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna who has been in an illegal detention after he was arrested by the police on the orders of the Governor since over a month and intentionally dragged before a magistrate that lacks the jurisdiction.
HURIWA lamented also that in Kaduna State one Bala Mubarak, an atheist, was arrested by the police only because he left the Islamic religion to embrace Atheism, raising concerns that the said Mr. Bala Mubarak may be handed over to the Governor of Kano State whereby he might be subjected to a trial by the Islamic Sharia Court – a forum that will inevitably not guarantee him fair trial since he has since left the Islamic religion and moved from his state of birth of Kano and relocated to the former Northern regional capital of Kaduna.
The rights group said critics of Governor Nassir El’Rufai of Kaduna Satae such as Steven Kefas spent months at the Kaduna prisons just as the erstwhile governing board chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu, is being persecuted for objectively highlighting the mass killings in Southern Kaduna by armed Fulani herdsmen.
In a media statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that democracy in Nigeria is bleeding under the suffocating oppression of dictators at both the national and sub-national levels and asked the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, to order the release of his critic and the Aba-based legal practitioner, Emperor Ogbonna, who has since been clamped into prison detention after he was arrested by the immediate past Police Commissioner, Mr. Okon Ene, on some framed-up charges of cyber-bullying the Governor.
“HURIWA is aware that the former Abia State Police Commissioner conspired with the Abia State Governor to arrest Mr. Ogbonna and framed up the charges that he and others now at large March 18 and 19, 2020 at 118 Market Road, Aba in the Aba North Magisterial District conspired among themselves to commit a felony to wit: an act of cyber terrorism and thereby committed an offence Punishable under Section 27(1)(a) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition Prevention ETC) Act, 2015,” HURIWA said.
The group also accused the Abia State Governor of abuse of power by reportedly ordering the re-arrest of the critic barely hours after he was freed from a Month-long detention at the Umuahia prisons.
HURIWA stated that it is absolutely condemnable that the immediate past Commissioner of Police in the state intentionally and knowingly planned to arbitrarily prolong the detention of the staunch critic of the police commissioner’s paymaster the Abia state governor by dragging the matter to a legal forum that has no jurisdiction to entertain his badly-framed charges.
The rights group said “the virtually one month continuous detention of the lawyer by the Abia State Governor through the Abia State Police Commissioner is totally reprehensible, disgraceful and a wanton violations of the constitutionally guaranteed human rights of Mr. Ogbonna.”
HURIWA challenged the State Governor to release the lawyer or to properly charge him in the competent court of law so he can be guaranteed fair hearing under the fundamental rights provisions enshrined in the chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It expressed consternation that the wanton and arbitrary arrests and illegal detention of Nigerians with divergent political or religious beliefs and views from those of the establishments have continued unabated all over the country adding that the action of the Katsina State Governor who ordered the police to arrest a 70 year-old citizen and two others for insulting President Buhari and the Governor shows a progressive deterioration of the respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Whilst canvassing the release of the three Katsina persons arrested for allegedly insulting President Buhari and the Governor HURIWA stated that it is shameful and absolutely condemned that a government that claims to have been democratically elected to now become a full-fledged dictatorship.
“We will continue to urge world leaders to put pressure on the government of President Buhari to stop forthwith his vicious attacks on freedom of expression and media freedoms,” HURIWA said.