Posted by News Express | 21 May 2018 | 1,610 times
Civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the arrest and prosecution of nine Jewish worshippers in the house of the “missing” director of the proscribed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) in Umuahia, Abia State, describing the action as grave violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion of the people.
Besides, the rights group asked the police to release, without further delay, the younger brother of the missing IPOB’s director known as Prince Emmanuel Kanu or to charge him to a competent court of law if the police has any cogent charges against him.
HURIWA warned against the unconstitutional practices of forced disappearances, hostage taking by security forces which has increasingly become the favourable tools of the extensively repressive security forces of Nigeria.
Speaking specifically on the reported arrest and charges of terrorism of nine Jewish worshippers by the Nigerian state, HURIWA expressed consternation that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has continued with the ugly trends of crackdown against Nigerian citizens even after the president had assured President Donald Trump during a state visit recently that his government will address the damning charges of gross human right violations made by the American state department in the year 2017 human rights report on Nigeria.
HURIWA cited Section 42-(1) and Section 38 - (1) of the Nigerian Constitution as clearly spelling out that such discriminatory behaviour of security forces against religious minority is antithetical to the constitution.
The group said the continuous crackdown of civilians in the South East of Nigeria for their suspected sympathy for self determination or for their religious choices are clear violations of the fundamental human rights provisions enshrined in all international humanitarian laws, the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, the International Covenant on civil and political rights and the African Charter on human and people’s rights which Nigeria is a major signatory. “We wonder why Nigeria was recently admitted as a key member of the United Nations Human Rights body.
“We view this arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional arrest of ordinary worshippers in their place of religious worship and their kangaroo persecution for some nebulous charges of terrorism as provocative and primitive. We will write to the American President and the international community to alert the world of the ongoing grave violation of religious rights of some Igbo,” HURIWA noted.
Sections 42 and 38 of the Nigerian Constitution stated: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person – (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex religions or political opinions.”
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the 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 that nine of the Jewish worshippers arrested on Sunday by the Nigeria police at the home of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Monday were arraigned at an Umuahia Magistrate Court on charges of terrorism.
It recalled that before the accused persons were brought to court on a prisons truck, Jewish religion adherents had thronged the court premises, singing and dancing amid the heavy presence of the police.
The group quoting the media stated that when the one count charge was read out to the nine accused persons they pleaded not guilty even as the charge sheet indicated that the alleged offence took place on May 13, 2018, in Afaaraukwu under the Umuahia Judicial Division of Abia State.
HURIWA recalled that Part of it reads: “In the course of carrying out your terrorist act and with intent to frighten ASP Justus Ogah of the Nigeria police and his team you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12(a) of the Abia State prohibition of terrorism, kidnapping, hostage taking, use of offensive weapon or explosive and other threatening behaviours Law 1990.”
It also noted that in his ruling, the presiding Senior Magistrate U.O. Egwu ordered that the nine accused persons be remanded in the Federal Prison, Umuahia, pending the next hearing which would come up on May 30, 2018even as he further ordered that the case file be transferred to the State Director of Public Prosecution for further advice on the matter as the court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter. He wondered why the police chose to transfer the matter to his court when it should have transferred it to the appropriate court that has jurisdiction to hear the matter.
HURIWA therefore decided to petition President Donald Trump of the United States through the United States Ambassador to Nigeria to demand that the United States must prevail on the President Buhari’s administration to comply with the human rights provisions of international, continental and municipal laws by allowing all citizens the rights to exercise their religious freedoms without let or hindrance.
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