HURIWA Backs Zuba Traders’ Right to Association

HURIWA Backs Zuba Traders’ Right to Association

…Calls for Investigation

Traders at the Zuba International Electronics and Electrical Market, rallying under the banner of their right to free association, have approached the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in significant numbers, seeking support against alleged autocratic practices and financial misconduct by Mr. Emeka Mkparu, purported President General of the market. Prompted by their distressing claims, HURIWA has thrown its weight behind the traders, urging them to establish a self-governing union as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution’s fundamental rights provisions.

In a strongly worded Press Statement, HURIWA acknowledged the severity of the accusations directed at Mr. Mkparu, which include alleged exploitation of traders and the purported diversion of market funds for personal gain. These allegations are deeply concerning, and the leading civil rights advocacy group expressed solidarity with the traders, recognizing their fundamental rights and the potential dire consequences of such alleged actions on their livelihoods.

“The traders of Zuba International Electronics and Electrical Market claim they have suffered under the autocratic rule of Mr. Emeka Mkparu, who has allegedly exploited his position as president-general for personal gain.

“His purported actions, including diverting market funds into personal accounts, preventing the formation of a traders’ union, and intimidating dissenting voices, have led to widespread hardship and exploitation within the market. The traders appeal to the authorities for assistance in establishing a traders’ union and urge for a thorough investigation into Mr. Mkparu’s activities. We stand in solidarity with the traders and call for justice to be served”, stated HURIWA.

Responding to the traders’ petition, HURIWA’s Press Statement, signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, revealed that it has initiated a thorough investigation to verify the claims and ensure accountability. The association further revealed it has committed to submitting a formal petition to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), urging for a prompt and comprehensive inquiry into the financial operations of the Zuba International Electronics and Electrical Market.

Central to HURIWA’s mission is the protection of human rights and the promotion of democratic values. The association underscored the importance of transparency, fairness, and adherence to the rule of law in addressing the grievances raised by the traders. HURIWA firmly believes in the necessity of holding accountable those responsible for any wrongdoing.

“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association. This fundamental right is enshrined in several provisions of the Constitution, particularly in Chapter IV, which outlines the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens.

“Section 40 explicitly guarantees the right to freedom of association. It states: ‘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.  Although not explicitly mentioning “association”, Section 38 protects the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This includes the freedom to hold and express political opinions, which are often exercised through associations.

These provisions collectively affirm the right of individuals to form or join associations, including trade unions or other groups, without undue interference from the government or other entities. It guarantees the right to assemble and associate freely for the protection of one’s interests, which includes forming traders’ unions as per the petition against Mr. Emeka Mkparu,” highlighted HURIWA.

In pursuit of justice, HURIWA pledged unwavering support to the traders in their quest for self-governing union, accountability, and redress. The association expressed its commitment to advocating for the rights of traders within the Zuba market and ensuring that their voices are heard and respected.

Beyond addressing the immediate concerns within the Zuba market, HURIWA recognized the broader implications of the allegations against Mr. Mkparu. The association hence called upon relevant authorities to prioritize the investigation and take decisive action to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all market participants.

“In addition to the petition to the ICPC, we plan to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including government agencies and civil society organizations, to advance the cause of justice and accountability. Also, we will forward a petition to the relevant government authority to compel Mr. Mkparu to respect the constitutional right of these traders to set up their self-governing traders association freely. HURIWA remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting human rights, social justice, and democratic principles in Nigeria,” informed Onwubiko.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*

National Coordinator,

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

March 27, 2024.

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