Press Release: In a strongly-worded response to Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu’s recent comments on the economic impact of sit-at-home orders in the South East, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has come forward to criticize his failure to address the root causes of the unrest in the region.
HURIWA, in a statement Monday, vehemently argued that blaming the symptom instead of the disease is a gross oversight that fails to address the critical issues at the heart of the problem. “Hon. Kalu had spoken about the economic losses incurred due to sit-at-home orders in the South East and proposed a project called Peace In The South East (PISE) to restore normalcy in the region”.
However, HURIWA, in the statement signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, chastised him for failing to appropriately distribute blame for the origins of these sit-at-home orders, highlighting the fact that the sit-at-home orders began as a response to the illegal rendition of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who was detained by Nigerian security agencies and the Kenyan government.
“He was held under inhumane conditions and subjected to forced rendition to Nigeria. The Nigerian government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, paraded him in handcuffs, ignoring the legal principle that accused persons are innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Even after Kanu was acquitted by the Court of Appeal, the government held on to him, defying court orders and obtaining a stay of execution”.
Hence, HURIWA contended that Hon. Kalu, as a public representative, should be more cognizant of these root causes and demand accountability for these actions that have sparked unrest in the South East.
Furthermore, HURIWA questioned Hon. Kalu’s silence on Asari Dokubo, who allegedly confessed to operating a private army in the East and is suspected of creating and operating the “unknown gunmen” responsible for violence in the region. HURIWA wondered why the Deputy Speaker had not called for his arrest or demanded accountability.
Continuing, HURIWA suggested that Hon. Kalu seems to be seeking unmerited publicity using his political position and is ignoring critical issues that are contributing to instability and insecurity in the South East. “In doing so, he is burying his head in the sand, ignoring the brutal military actions carried out by the central government in the South East, and the resultant loss of lives, particularly the killings of Igbo youths by security forces, as documented by Amnesty International.
“While economic concerns are undoubtedly significant, it is essential to remember that these challenges are symptomatic of deeper issues. The root causes of the unrest in the South East must be addressed to achieve lasting peace and stability. Sit-at-home orders are a response to the perceived injustices and security concerns in the region. To effectively resolve the problem, it is crucial to engage with the underlying issues that have led to these disruptions.
“HURIWA has consistently condemned the sit-at-home orders, recognizing the devastating economic impact they have had on the South East, and has also condemned the Federal government for not doing the needful to bring to an end the illegal sit-at-home through the use of diplomatic means to get Finland to stop the use of its territory by the Nigerian-born but Finnish citizen Simon Ekpa, who has been issuing illegal sit-at-home orders from Finland”.
In conclusion, HURIWA called upon Deputy Speaker Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu to recognize the root causes of the problems in the South East and address them with the same vigor he demonstrates when discussing the economic impact of sit-at-home orders.
Additionally, HURIWA called for a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the allegations regarding the use of force and violence by certain groups in the South East to enforce compliance with the sit-at-home orders.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)
October 16, 2023