… Seeks immediate freedom for arrested peaceful Nasarawa protesters
Prominent civil rights advocacy group: Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has denounced as repressive, unconstitutional, reprehensible and despicable, the forceful quelling by armed police operatives of the Nasarawa State Police Command, of peaceful protest by aggrieved Nasarawa State natives against what they perceived as injustice following the Supreme Court ruling by controversial justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun returning the governor as winner of the disputed 2023 governorship poll.
Specifically, the Supreme Court had on Friday affirmed that Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressive Congress and not David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party, won the election to be governor. The PDP candidate was pronounced winner by the Election Tribunal of first instance thus invalidating the result issued by INEC, but the Appeal and Supreme Court overturned the ruling and returned the incumbent governor as being validly elected for his second and final term.
The 2023 poll was considered by some opinion moulders as rigged by the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that a Muslim governor retains his position in Nasarawa State as against the Christian candidate of the PDP just as Nasarawa is now sharply divided alongside religious and ethnic lines.
HURIWA in a statement condemning the unlawful, contemptuous and primitive action of the police which offends several constitutional rights of the citizens including the freedom of association and freedom of expression, faulted the brutality meted out to women and youngsters of Nasarawa State who were simply exercising their constitutional and democratic rights to freedom to protest against decision of the Supreme Court which they rejected for being manifestly unjust and unfair and which they said violated their democratic right to freely choose who should govern their state.
In a media statement, the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the Rights group is also shocked that the state governor whose pyrrhic victory in the Supreme Court of Nigeria is being denounced democratically by some citizens, rather than call for reconciliation, restoration of unity amongst the different ethnicities in Nasarawa State irrespective of their religious convictions, the governor sounded bellicose and was quoted in the media as provocatively saying that protests can’t change the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The Rights group also condemned as despicable, distasteful, and divisive tendency manifested in the alleged public statement attributed to the Nasarawa state governor who ought to be the father of all.
“The governor of Nasarawa State who has just won a pyrrhic victory courtesy of the highly biased panel of the Supreme Court, should be magnanimous in victory and reunite his people including those who think that his victory at the court of law was unconstitutional and undemocratic. The larger interests of Nasarawa State for progress, unity and sustainability of developmental initiatives and religious harmony should dominate the thinking of the governor of Nasarawa State. On no account should his words or actions be divisive and insensitive.”
HURIWA lamented that the lawless Police in Nasarawa State yesterday arrested 38 suspects in connection with the protest which trailed the Supreme Court verdict.
The commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Umar Shehu Nadada who revealed this in Lafia, said 29 motorcycles were also recovered from those arrested.
Mr. Nadada said those arrested violated the peace accord signed by the leadership of the two major political parties in contention, APC and PDP to avoid any action that may lead to breach of peace during and after the judgement. HURIWA said the police commissioner needs to pick up a copy of the Nigerian Constitution and educate himself to know that the citizens have the inalienable human rights to exercise those freedoms peacefully even as these fundamental freedoms are enshrined in the Grund Norm just as the so-called peace agreement by the PDP and APC is not superior to constitutional provisions that are binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria. HURIWA has therefore asked the commissioner of police to free immediately and unconditionally, those ‘political prisoners’ captured by his armed goons in Nasarawa State.
HURIWA has however demanded the immediate unconditional release of the peaceful protesters because public peaceful demonstration is constitutionally guaranteed and the Nigerian police has no force of law to take away the fundamental human rights guaranteed under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended just as the Rights group said the police could’ve provided security to the protesters to avoid breach of law and order rather than deploy crude, primitive and illegal force to quell a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights being exercised by some Nasarawa State citizens. HURIWA said the police should be a police for all and not a sectional police that carries out illegal operations for the highest bidders including persons wielding governmental authorities.
HURIWA faulted the illegality of the arrest of the peaceful protesters in Nasarawa State because constitutionally, they have the fundamental rights to exercise those freedoms peacefully including the rights stated in the following constitutional provisions:”34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –
(a) no verson shall be subiect to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
(b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude: and
(c) no person shall be required to perform forced
Of compulsory labour.
39. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and I receive and impart ideas and information without interterence
41. (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any par thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom
A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community , ethnic group, place of origin , sex , religion or political opinion shall not. bv reason onlv that he is such a person:
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the
practical application of, any law in force ir INgeria or any executive or administrative action or the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Ivigeria of othel communities. ethnic orouns. places of origin
sex. renoions or bonuca opinions are nor made
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the
practical application of, any law in force ir Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action. anv privilege or advantage that is nol
accorded to citizens of Nigeria of othe communities, ethnic groups. places of origin.
sex, religions or political opinions.”