Southeast activist lament ordeal of Nnamdi Kanu, Sheik El-Zaky; X-rays role of the media

Posted by News Express | 16 August 2016 | 1,813 times

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The Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) has alerted the public that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has been detained by the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari for over 300 days or 10 months without trial, describing him as a Prisoner of Conscience.

The group also disclosed that the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria or Shiite Muslim, Sheik Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky has been detained for over 240 days or eight months without trial and public appearance.

SBCHROs comprises International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Civil Liberties Organization, Southeast Zone, Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Organization of Nigeria, Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group).

SBCHROs said in a statement issued on Tuesday in Onitsha, signed by the leader of the coalition, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Publicity Department, Comrade Aloysius Attah; and Head, Research & Strategy Department, Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD.:

“According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition (2009), a (criminal) trial is a formal judicial examination of evidence and determination of legal claims in an adversary proceeding. In other words, a criminal trial is a proceeding preceding issuance of a judicial notice about intended legal claims and accompanying evidence (charge) before a judge by the accusing authority (i.e. AGF, Police or DSS) against an accused citizen in which the veracity of legal claims and accompanying evidence is determined through formal judicial examination. For a criminal trial to be called one, it must be rested on two grand principles of rule of law: audi alteram partem (nobody should be tried or condemned unheard) and nemo judex in sua causa (nobody should be a judge in their own case or objectivity and neutrality of a trial judge). Where a criminal charge or even trial lacks the above fundamentals, it simply becomes trial-by-ordeal or jungle justice.

“This is more so when President Muhammadu Buhari himself has not only openly vowed to rot Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in jail by fire by force, but has further gone ahead to interfere with the judicial process. Under his presidential seal, the DSS ran amok on Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and his constitutional liberties and flouted and disobeyed all court orders made during Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s detention in DSS custody. President Buhari’s dictatorial interference in the court process involving Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is democratically unheard of and tyrannical. This is clearly evidenced by his public utterances during the 30th of December 2015 Presidential Media Chat during which he presidentially and dictatorially nullified a court bail granted to Citizen Nnamdi Kanu; thereby threatening and undermining the judicial independence and the citizens’ constitutional rights to fair hearing and fair trial.

“Going by the forgoing, therefore, it is indisputably clear that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is not undergoing criminal trial in any court in Nigeria; likewise Sheik Ibrahim El-Zaky. Both Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and Ibrahim El-Zaky have not only been grossly deprived of these constitutional liberties, enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as well as regional and international rights and liberties; but they have also lost as much as 1,300 followers and supporters since December 2015.

“While 809 followers of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zaky were massacred in December 2015 by the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Turkur Buratai and under his authority and supervision, as much as 250 followers and supporters of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu were also massacred by the Nigerian Army and the Police at seven occasions on 30th August 2015 (Awka), 2nd December and 17th December 2015 (Onitsha), January 18th and 29th and 9th of February 2016 (Aba) and 30th of May 2016 (Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba). These attacks are not only a clear case of regime atrocity but also a heinous crime of ethnocide, religocide and genocide.”

Roles Played by Print and Visual Media

While highlighting the role of the media in the trial period of time IPOB leader, the group said: “The Nigerian media of present time is categorised into four sections of: visual/audio-visual, print, social and online. By Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria: the Press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media SHALL at all times be free to uphold the Fundamental Objectives (executive, legislative and judicial governance and their constitutional responsibilities) and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people. Section 39 of the same Constitution also guarantees freedom of expression; likewise Section 38, which guarantees freedom of thought and conscience. That is to say that the Nigerian Media ought to be the bastion of democracy and rule of law including preservation and protection of citizens’ constitutional liberties at all times. The Nigerian Media also ought to be the beacon of hope for the masses of Nigeria irrespective of their ethnic, religious and class origins. The safety and survival of Nigeria’s democracy ought to be in the hands of the Nigerian Media as well.

“Unfortunately, the Nigerian Media of today is composed of the good, the bad and the ugly. They are further composed of protagonists and antagonists of democracy and rule of law. Unequivocally speaking, the online media, and to a large extent, the social media have triumphantly emerged as protagonists of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria as against the antagonistic and pro-dictatorship roles of most of the country’s print and visual media. During the military era in Nigeria, the print media was the leading advocate of struggle to end military rule. This earned them a number of international merit awards, robust technical assistance and recognitions; today, they have slumbered and democratically deformed.

“Investigative, development and conscientious journalism has gone. Days are gone when print media editorials shake the foundations of public office holders and their institutions. Strategic percentage of the Nigeria’s print and visual media stakes are now owned by the country’s leading doyens of corruption, leading to the rot witnessed in the country’s leading print and visual media today. To the extent that a print media reporter or correspondent is summarily dismissed by his editorial board through a phone call on express orders of its chairman, simply because he reported a land dispute in which the name of a popular priest was mentioned, is a stark instance of the rot running riot on Nigerian print and visual media. Again, to the extent that some correspondents of Southeast extraction are routinely queried, abused and scorned by their editors and editorial boards for filing reports concerning the nonviolent and peaceful activities of IPOB is a further attestation to entrenched decadence in the print and visual media.”

Source: News Express

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