Tuesday, 16 August 2016

News Release: Roles Played By Print And Visual Media In Nnamdi Kanu’s 300 Days Of Detention Without Trial


It is the information of the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs), comprising: 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)  that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu; the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and SBCHROs’ named Prisoner-of-Conscience (POC), has been detained by the authorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by Gen Muhammadu Buhari for over 300 days or 10 months without trial. We also wish to inform that the battered and lacerated leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria or Shiite Muslim, Sheik Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky has been detained dead or alive by President Muhammadu Buhari for over 240 days or 8 months without trial and public appearance.

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:
The Nigerian media of present time is categorized 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.

It is vividly recalled that in late 2015 and early 2016, we raised a public alarm concerning how case-files in the custody of the DSS, containing supposedly hand-written statements of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and his co-accused, upon their arrest in July and October 2015, were duplicated, doctored and given to some hostile and enemy print media and their online cronies of Southwest ownership. The publication of the doctored and corrupted statements of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and others was part of the orchestrated trial by ordeal and media; designed by the Presidency to convict and jail Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and his colleagues at all costs.

We are therefore not surprised a bit over the continuation and intensification of the presidentially oiled media war and trial against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, his IPOB and the entire Igbo race. It must be clearly stated that aside the online media and social media, the print and visual media have always taken negative and docile positions on issues concerning pro Biafra self determination campaign and its nonviolent approach. The Nigerian Print and the Visual Media have always come out in strong defense of the Buhari administration’s crude and homicidal approaches towards the pro Biafran activists and activities and turned blind eyes to sundry regime atrocities and other forms of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the administration. The massacre of hundreds of unarmed and innocent IPOB activists and secret mass burial of many of them has never for one day featured prominently on any TV discourse or in leading print media in Nigeria.

What makes headlines on TV newslines or print media headlines are negative stories plotted or created by Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari and its coercive agencies against the IPOB and the Igbo race. It must be stated that pro Biafra self determination agitation using nonviolent and peaceful means; is never the sole making of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu or his IPOB. Apart from the fact that the fundamental elements of right to self determination such as right to peaceful assembly and association are guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, it was the Federal Republic of Nigeria that willingly and originally adopted it regionally and internationally as part of its municipal laws and regional and international obligations. Till date, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is still a party to them. It is therefore genocidal to massacre a group of citizens who opted peacefully and non-violently to enjoy such rights willingly negotiated for them by their embattled political territory.

We hereby call on the leadership of IPOB World-Wide to be strong and remain peaceful and nonviolent. We further ask them not to be dampened. Very importantly, they should be mindful of those they hire and incorporate into their legal team. Moles and strawmen abound. From right, left and centre of Nigeria, they are in torrents. If some directors in the civil service in Nigeria can go to the extent of using names of their colleagues that died years ago to be collecting and pocketing emoluments on their behalf and still go by hallowed titles: Knights and Ladies of the Church or Muslim Clerics; then it means nothing to other conscienceless mortals including those in wigs and gowns to sell out and compromise their clientele, fraternal and advocacy responsibilities over a bag-load of blood money.

Commendation Of Nnamdi Kanu’s Retained Legal Team: We commend the conscientious conducts and collective courage of the retained legal team of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, comprising Barristers Ifeanyi Ejiofor (lead counsel), Chinwe Umeche, Habila Turshak, Emmanuel Ayoola, J.B. Banjor and eight others. We particularly commend Elder Chuks Muomah, SAN (Ochiagha n’ Oraifite and Pro Bono Counsel-in-Chief). Their steadfastness and courage despite sundry threats and blackmails from executive quarters are very commendable.

Renewal Of Nnamdi Kanu’s Prisoner-Of-Conscience Award And Naming Of Ibrahim El-Zaky As A New Prisoner-Of-Conscience: We hereby renew the prestigious award of Prisoner-Of-Conscience (POC) bestowed on Citizen Nnamdi Kanu on 30th of January 2016. We have also adopted detained (dead or alive) Sheik Ibrahim El-Zaky of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria as a Prisoner-Of-Conscience, whether dead or alive. The persons of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu and Ibrahim El-Zaky are so named on account of their long detention without trial and traces of no group or individual violence  in their names against the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The award is both renewable and revocable. It is renewable as long as fair trial and fair hearing is not given to each of them and revocable if there is concrete evidence that both or either of them is advocating or resorting to or has resorted to or advocated violence of widespread or group nature; abandoning the UN principles of non-violence and pacifism.
It is these notes that we conclusively say: ALUTA CONTINUA! VICTORIA ACERTA!!


For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
(a)    Emeka Umeagbalasi, Leader, SBCHROs
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk

(b)   Comrade Aloysius Attah, Head, Publicity Department, SBCHROs
Mobile Line: +2348035090548

(c)    Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD, Head, Research & Strategy Department, SBCHROs
Mobile Line: +2348035372962

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