The prominent pro-democracy and civil rights advocacy group – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned of the dire consequences of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s consistent misuse of his powers to use the armed security forces to emasculate civil rights community in Nigerian.
The Rights group stated this in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf issued against the backdrop of the reported attacks by armed security forces in Lagos targeting participants at a town hall meeting titled “Revolution Now” in which the likes of the Nobel prize for literature winner Prof. Wole Soyinka and civil Rights leader Femi Falana (SAN) amongst a plethora of other Nigerians were disallowed from holding the scheduled peaceful assembly of pro-human rights advocates.
“The danger in allowing the continuous deployment of military force to stop peaceful and constructive civic engagements is that constitutional democracy may collapse under the heavyweight of authoritarianism and the consequences will be huge to such a level that it could result in Nigeria becoming a massively failed state,” HURIWA submitted.
The Rights group has, therefore, demanded the release unconditionally of all those arrested in connection with any form of non-violent civic engagements because of the exercise of their fundamental freedoms enshrined in chapter four of the 1999 constitution which absolutely do not constitute any treason but indeed what is treasonable and obnoxious is the persistent and illegal use of security forces by government to crush civil rights actions by Nigerians which in some cases have resulted in arbitrary mass arrests and illegal detention.
HURIWA cited section 39(1) “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
Section 40 “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests: Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.”
Section 41(1) “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.”
Section 42 (1)(2) “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.”
“No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.” HURIWA also stated that the actions of the security forces are in clear violations of the aforementioned constitutional provisions and that the government is replacing constitutional democracy with an authoritarian police state.
HURIWA recalled that Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services (DSS) operatives on Monday sealed off the venue of a symposium where Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, a rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, and other speakers were to speak on the insecurity situation in Nigeria.
HURIWA recalled that the Police vehicles were positioned around the venue located at 46 Ibijoke Street, Oluyole bus stop, Oregun, Lagos.
HURIWA quoting the conveners in a report stated that the programme tagged “Democracy, State Repression and the State of insecurity in Nigeria”, was organised by Coalition for Revolution (CORE) just as HURIWA recalled that CORE, a group led by the detained 2019 presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, and its allies, recently vowed to resume protests demanding revolution in Nigeria.