The prominent civil Rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has praised the disclosure by the STATE department of the United States of America banning certain categories of Nigerian politicians from travelling to the U.S.A for undermining democracy in the run up to the 2019 polls.
The Rights group said the decision represents a watershed in what is seen as a bold move by the world leader to save democracy from collapsing in Nigeria under the tyranny of president Muhammadu Buhari just as the Rights group stated that any visa restrictions that does not include the governor of Kaduna state Malam Nasir Elrufai and the ministerial nominee from Akwa Ibom state Mr. Godswill Akpabio who threatened violence in the run up to the 2019 polls, remains incomplete and should be reconsidered. The Rights group said the duo of Elrufai and Akpabio after making their grave threats against constitutional democracy were backed by the President just as the Rights group said it may be a phenomenal decision if the United States of America consider imposing traveling ban on the current President Muhammadu Buhari for his government’s decision ordering shoot-at-sight to armed security forces targeting alleged snatchers of ballot boxes.
In a statement endorsed jointly by the national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the media director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that those threats may have precipitated the massive violence and large number of casualties that resulted from the election of 2019 which controversially returned the then incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari as the winner. HURIWA was quick to remind the USA that even the leading opposition Peoples Democratic party was culpable because its national chairman threatened war should the incumbent President went ahead to rig the Presidential polls.
HURIWA listed other politicians who actively made open threats of violence before the polls to include the then minister of transportation Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who staged a so called traditional war dance in Port Harcourt Rivers State and the national chairman of All Progressives Congress Adams Oshiomhole and that of People’s Democratic Party Mr. Uche Secondus.
HURIWA urged the United States government to also include the military commanders of the Nigerian Army in the oil rich Rivers state reportedly accused of causing considerable chaos and violence in Rivers state. The group said the commanders allegedly gave unlawful orders tgat resulted in fatalities.
HURIWA recalled that on February 6th 2019, governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State threatened that foreign nationals who interfere in the forthcoming general elections would be given a “body bags treatment.”
HURIWA stated that a body bag is one used for carrying a corpse from a battlefield or the scene of an accident or crime to either a mortuary or place of burial.
The Rights group STATED THAT the governor’s threat came barely a week after the Federal Government accused foreign powers, including the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (E.U.) of actions that could be deemed as interference, and warned of consequences.
HURIWA in the statement recalled that the developed nations had condemned the suspension of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, over alleged non-declaration of assets, warning that the action taken by President Muhammadu Buhari could negatively affect the credibility of the forthcoming elections. The President went ahead to cajole the then Chief Justice into a hasty retirement.
The Rights group SAID THAT Governor El-Rufai, who sought re-election under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), spoke on a live programme on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) anchored by Cyril Stober.
HURIWA reminded the American government to remember that whilst making the threats of violence against foreign election observers, the Kaduna state governor had argued that it is a basic principle of international law that no country should interfere in the internal affairs of another country.
HURIWA quoted him as stating thus: “You can comment, but when you make statements on the internal affairs of a country without facts, that is interference and is very irresponsible. Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for those that will come and intervene, they will go back in body bags,” the governor said.
HURIWA stated that El-Rufai arrogantly described Nigeria as an independent entity whose sovereignty would never be compromised in servitude to foreign powers and continued his pro-violence rhetoric thus: “We are trying to run our country as decently as possible. Foreign countries have also had their own share of the challenges before attaining their current development strides.”
Earlier on January 31st 2019, Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), threatened that there will be war in the country if the 2019 presidential election is rigged.
Speaking in Asaba, capital of Delta State, on at the party’s presidential campaign rally Secondus accused the Nigerian government of putting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under pressure to rig the election.
HURIWA recalled that Uche Secondus threatened thus: “Today, by your mandate, we warn INEC and we believe there are good people in INEC… we know that government is pressuring INEC to rig this election, but if they rig this election, they’re looking for war,” he said.
The Rights group recalled vividly that in pidgin, PDP chairman asked the people if this was true, to which they replied in the affirmative.
Continuing, he said: “If they need peace, they must not rig the election — because everybody is ready for this election.
HURIWA quoted Uche Secondus as also threatening violence as follows: “We want to also advise our security agencies — and we know there are good people there protecting lives and properties, which is their primary duty. We believe that they will obey the Constitution, not to break it like Mr. President is breaking our laws. They will obey the Constitution and be neutral, but if they don’t, if they join hands with INEC to rig this election, what are they looking for?”
“War,” the people chanted back.
Secondus then added: “Therefore, we advise all Nigerians, on that day on the 16th of February, let them come all out to vote and stand by their ballot boxes, and defend their votes — because the votes of all Nigerians must count. So that we can vote out a man who cannot interact, so that we can vote out a man that has brought disgrace to our nation.
On January 22nd 2019, information minister then hinted wrongly that it was in possession of intelligence information indicating that plans have been hatched by opposition elements to truncate the general elections by instigating violence across the country.
On his part, the then Senator Godswill Akpabio who cross carpeted to APC from PDP threatened before the election that his party will invade Akwa Ibom state similar to how Hitler invaded Poland in 1945.
HURIWA stated that the USA’s Visa ban will significantly help the advancement of Democracy but was quick to remind the USA that President Muhammadu Buhari HAD ORDERED VIOLENT CRACKDOWN ON MEMBERS OF THE PROTESTING SHIITES ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF NIGERIA DEMANDING THE RELEASE OF THEIR DETAINED LEADER.