Tuesday, 11 April 2017

News Release: CLO Decries The State Of Human Rights/ Governance In Nigeria Under Buhari

Zonal Management Committee Members 

(Being excerpts from the 23 pages report on the state of the nation and focus on Anambra during a world press conference by the CLO  South East Zone as presented by the Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah. 08035090548 attahcomrade@yahoo.com)


Members of the South East Zonal Management Committee (ZMC) of The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) comprising of the Zonal Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah, Abia State CLO Chairman, Comrade (Barrister) Pedro Azuogu, Anambra State CLO Chairman, Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme, Anambra State Branch Secretary, Comrade Chidi Mbah, Enugu State branch Chairman, Comrade Zulu Ofoelue, Ebonyi State Branch Chairman, Comrade Ralph, Imo State branch Chairman, Comrade Paschal Oziri , Imo State Branch Secretary, Comrade Ogele (rep) converged in Onitsha on Saturday 8th April 2017 for their ZMC meeting. After an exhaustive deliberations and communiquĂ© reached and in solidarity with Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman of  the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, (Intersociety) and former Anambra Chair and Zonal Vice Chairman of the CLO, the zone addressed a World Press Conference on Sunday 9th April 2017 which went thus : (Part 1)

The Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria’s foremost Human Rights Organisation has been in the struggle for the promotion of human rights culture and good governance.  Through its various projects in the areas of police abuse, prison conditions, rule of law, women’s rights, human rights education and democracy, the CLO exposed the atrocities of military rule and mobilized the people for its termination.

With the termination of military rule in 1999, the CLO has continued to monitor and challenge human rights violations throughout the country, while also embarking on activities to challenge civilian misrule wherever it manifests itself.  At the same time, it currently exploits the opportunities offered by civil rule to engage relevant government agencies in meaningful co-operation to redress rights violations and promote citizens’ participation in governance and development.

The Civil Liberties Organisation, South East Zone has not deviated from the same role and ideals of the organization founded in 1987. We are gathered here today after our Zonal Management Committee (ZMC) meeting to address you on the State of the Nation focusing on the South East Zone with special emphasis on Anambra State.

This briefing falls under the Democracy and Governance Project of the CLO. This project started as Democracy Action Project in the CLO with a focus on mobilizing the citizenry to challenge the military regimes of the time and their inhuman policies. From 1999, the project was transformed to Democracy and Governance project with a focus on deepening popular participation in development and governance.

State Of The Nation
Our beloved country Nigeria remains at the crossroads under President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC led government. When the party was campaigning for elective positions prior to the 2015 general elections, the PDP ruling party then was demonized as the party whose leaders were responsible for the numerous woes and problems facing the country.

APC came with the change mantra promising that Nigeria will become an Eldorado as soon as it takes power. Some of the party leaders even said that Nigerians should stone them if they failed to fulfill their promises within two years. But today, it is a different story altogether. No policy direction, an ailing president, economy in an unsteady and shaky standing, high cost of living , hardship everywhere in the land except the ruling political class who are insulated from the harsh realities, increasing incidences of suicide, amongst others.

In the history of democratic dispensation since 1999, no administration has ever been loathed by the ordinary Nigerian masses like the present Buhari administration, ironically, it seems like the popular song by the late legendary pop star, Michael Jackson, “They don’t really care about us”

The kind of secrecy and drama that trailed the last vacation and medical treatment embarked by President Buhari aptly confirms what we just said that “they don’t really care about us”.  Everybody and anybody can fall sick and can also die because we all know that is the way of all mortals. But Nigerians deserve to know the health status and update of their President. To embark on medical treatment abroad at the expense of the nation’s treasury and still shroud the whole thing in secrecy is an insult on the collective psyche of Nigerians.

It is our position that the detail of what ails the President, the medical bills, the update on what we are to expect in the next expected round of medical checkup should be made public. It is the right of Nigerians to know this and let there be no further delay in making this disclosure.

We wish Mr. President good health and long life but Nigerians should not be taken for a ride anymore.  The citizens also deserve better leadership and service or else we will be tempted to say that it is now time to rise up and take back our country which seems to have been totally hijacked.

The height of killings and bloodshed from state and non state actors under this administration has risen to its apogee and we condemn it in totality. The Right to Life and respect for the dignity of the human person as enshrined in Chapter 1V Section 33 and 34 of the 1999 Nigeria’s Constitution has been consigned to the dustbin.  The country’s image among the comity of Nations will remain battered if the government doesn’t rise to the occasion to not only stem the tide but change this their system that encourages savagery and resort to subtle genocide in a multi ethnic nation like Nigeria whose unity is supposed to lie in its diversity.

Our leaders should learn their lessons from the travails of former leaders of some countries today who are answering charges for war crimes and unmitigated killings when they held sway as President in their respective countries. No condition is permanent!

Continued Incarceration Of Nnamdi Kanu And Other Pro-Biafra Activists
It has been one year and six months since the arrest and detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on 14th October 2015.  Prominent members of the group also detained included Benjamin Madubugwu , David Nwawuisi , Chidiebere Onwudiwe and many others languishing in custody.

The agitation for an independent state of Biafra was borne out of the scars of the past (events that led to the Nigeria- Biafra Civil war and its aftermath) which are yet to be addressed till today and the long term marginalization of some sections of the country.

Government using the instruments of coercion instead of working towards addressing the anomalies chose the option of force in quelling such agitations and that is one area they will continue to get it wrong. Experience the world over has shown that the use of force in quelling such agitations emboldens the proponents to wax stronger in their zeal. The more, they are killed, the more their spirits gingered to forge ahead.

Mr. President had in a Presidential media chat sometime ago literarily convicted Nnamdi Kanu on air for acts bordering on terrorism even without verifiable facts or allowing the lawyers and the judges to do their work in the court.

But it is a settled fact that agitations for self determination or rights of the people to existence are recognized globally in so far as the proponents doesn’t use or advocate violence to achieve their goals.

The Nigerian Government in 1993 signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976 whose Article 1 provided the Citizens Rights to Self Determination so also Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981 ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended  gave provisions for Rights to Life, Dignity of the Human Person, Personal Liberty, Freedom of expression, Movement, Peaceful Assembly and Association including Freedom from Discrimination  in  Chapter 4, Sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 40, 41 and 42 respectively.

The continued incarceration of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his loyalists is totally condemned and uncalled for; it is more political than backed with verifiable evidence of criminality. We call for their unconditional release without further delay. The same treatment should be extended to all other pro biafran groups languishing in various prisons and detention centres across the country.

The law enforcement agents should give them protection while they are carrying out any rally and ensure that such programs are not hijacked by criminal elements. They should not be mowed down by trigger happy and blood thirsty agents in uniform.

Their killings should stop forthwith. The present panel set up by the FG through the Army to probe such killings is nothing but a mockery of the whole system because one cannot be a judge in his own case. The best bet to handle all the unlawful killings in Nigeria and ensure justice for the victims, the perpetrators and the society is for an international body to come in assisted by credible human rights/civil society groups.

Aloysius Attah
Zonal Chairman.

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