A leading pro-democracy and civil Rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has lamented the needless killing of an NYSC participant doing his service with channel television Mr. Precious Owolabi and the Deputy commissioner of police Umar Usman just as the Rights group has asked the federal government to pay #100 million compensations to the families of those killed in the unfortunate violence that trailed the protest by Shiites Islamic movement in Abuja.
In a media statement by the national coordinator comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the national media affairs director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA has also cautioned the federal government against the rumored declaration of the Shiites Islamic group as a terrorist organization just as the Rights group submitted that the Right to freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution and must never be abridged.
“We make haste to call on the current Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to adopt dialogue and peaceful negotiations with the aggrieved party as a way out of the imbroglio beginning with the immediate freedom for their detained leader Sheikh El-Zaczacky and his wife”.
“The Federal government cannot afford to continue to toil with the peace of the nation by refusing to obey a binding decision of the Federal High Court which ordered bail for the detained religious cleric and his wife. The contradictory explanations for the continued breach of this court order amount to an untenable sophistry on the part of the president of Nigeria”.
“First, president Buhari appeared on national television and stated that he will not respect the court’s order to release on bail the leader of the Islamic movement of Nigeria and immediate past national security adviser Sambo Dasuki because in his words, the duo constituted threats to national security. Many months after, the special assistant on media to President Buhari Malam Garba Shehu issued another statement contradicting his boss and asserts that the federal government has nothing to do with the continuous detention of the leader of Islamic movement of Nigeria. Only yesterday however, the spokesman of Buhari in the person of Femi Adesina introduced another contradictory dimension by saying government will not release him because there is an appeal filed against the bail orders granted him. We then wonder why the cacophony of illogical arguments from the same office of the president on this singular matter. We call on this president to act like a statesman and free all the political detainees and not just the leader of Islamic movement of Nigeria. Nigeria must truly practice constitutional democracy”.
HURIWA has therefore condemned any further clampdown on the group because according to the Rights group the government cannot undermine enjoyment by citizens of the religious freedoms on grounds that such human rights are buttressed by the following constitutional provisions in sections 39(1); 40; 41(1); 42(2) and 38(1) states as follows:
Section 39(1) states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
Section 40 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:
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) states: “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(2) states: “No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.”
Section 38(1) states: “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 stated that the President is obliged to compensate the relatives of those killed especially the journalist and the police officer because if government had obeyed the courts and freed the religious leader, the protest that was marred by unwarranted violence couldn’t have happened in the first place.
HURIWA has demanded independent commission of investigators including forensic analysts to determine what actually happened that so many persons got killed during the protest in question.