A prominent civil rights body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has decried the sudden upsurge of politically tainted arrest and detention of officials of the main opposition party – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
HURIWA has warned that should the trend continue then the elections would be tainted by corrupt practices in favour of the incumbent thereby denying legitimacy and credibility to the process and the outcomes may occasion upsurge of migrations from the Country by those genuinely afraid for their lives because of their Political differences with the incumbent President who has demonstrated overwhelming preferences for appointing only his tribesmen and religious cohorts into strategic internal security and defence portfolios.
The Rights group particularly condemned the illegal activities of the Kaduna state Directorate of the Department of State Services (DSS) which is akin to a total clampdown on the leading opposition political party (PDP) under guises of some phantom and trumped up charges that the political leaders are involved in the use of hat speeches.
The group lambasted the highly partisan Department of State Services for keeping mute and for her conspiratorial silence when the Kaduna state governor Malam Nassir El Rufai openly canvassed hate crime by threatening to kill off foreign observers should they interfere in the February 16th polls.
The group said the actions and inactions of the secret police which portrays it as highly partisan and politically compromised will inevitably damage the institutional integrity of the body which is a statutory and corporate entity funded by the people of Nigeria even though the office is domiciled wrongly under the presidency. HURIWA has also promised to sponsor a bill before the National Assembly in the next session to grant full autonomy to the DSS to operate just like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States of America.
“We are by this media intervention calling on the Director General of DSS to abide by the tenets of the constitution and carry out the obligations of the department in total compliance with the due process of the law and not turn the institution to private guards of All Progressive Congress.
“The operatives of DSS are totally wrong and prejudicial to clamp down on PDP officials who were going about the legitimate campaign activities in which case not a single life has been lost unlike the campaign rallies of the Kaduna state governor in which case fatalities were recorded and the governor called for body bags for foreign observers.”
“The arbitrary arrests and detention of the PDP officials violates the chapter 4 of the constitution and is meant to clip the wings of the opposition party and cripple multiparty democracy in Kaduna state and to foist a predetermined outcome in favour of the APC in the February 16th election and the gubernational poll in early March.”
HURIWA specifically cited provisions of the grund norm that are breached by the arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition politicians to include; Section 35 (1) of the Nigerian constitution that states thus “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty; by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law; for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence.”
Section 38 (1) “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
HURIWA recalled succinctly that security operatives had on Monday arrested former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna State, Alhaji Yaro Makama Rigachikun just as this is coming 72 hours after the arrest of the PDP campaign spokesman in the state, Mr. Ben Bako by operatives of the Department of State Service on Saturday night.
HURIWA recalled that Mr. Bako, a former information commissioner, was taken to Abuja, according to the Deputy Director General of the Ashiru/Katung Campaign Council, Mr. Danjuma Bello-Sarki.
Also, the pioneer chairman of the PDP, believed to be a grassroots mobiliser in the state, was said to have been whisked away by men of the DSS.
HURIWA recalled that Rigachikun, was one of the forces behind the All Progressives Congress’s electoral victory in the state in 2015 even as things got sour and the former PDP chairman, defected from the APC to the PDP last year and vowed to join forces with other party stalwarts in the state to remove the Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s administration in the state on March 2.
HURIWA quoted the media as reporting that one Mr. Catoh said the party chieftain was arrested by the operatives of the DSS, saying that the reason for the arrest was not known.
“Yes, he (Rigachikun) was arrested about three hours ago by the DSS and his whereabouts is still unknown,” he said.
It was gathered that his arrest was not unconnected with an alleged inciting comment made at a recent rally by the politician.
HURIWA also condemned the alleged plots to deploy politically tainted police operatives in Kwara and Akwa Ibom states to manipulate the polls in favour of the APC.