The prominent civil Rights Advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has stated that contrary to the misplaced fears about the internal military operations that are underway, the operatives of the Nigerian Army have demonstrated appreciable respect for the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of the citizenry since the latest military operations in all parts of Nigeria commenced on November 1st 2019.
HURIWA said it has also petitioned the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai over some attitudes and misconduct of some military operatives currently doing the operation Egwu Atilogwu in Aba Abia state who went about arresting wheel barrow pushers and artisans working around Ariaria markets and branded them kidnappers just as the Rights group said the Department of Civil Military Relations of the Nigerian Army has responded to the petition by HURIWA and assured us that steps are being taken to investigate these allegations of HUMAN RIGHTS abuses by some operatives.
In a statement by the National Coordinator of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Rights group applauded the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai for complying with the injunction of the Federal High Court Lagos division stopping the positive identification segment of the ongoing military operations but lambasted the Federal House of Representatives for disrespecting the court of competent jurisdiction, when the lower legislative chamber headed by a lawyer proceeded to okay the positive identification dimension of the internal military operations even against the subsisting and binding decision of the court which even the Nigerian Army complied totally with. HURIWA recalled that the Constitutional lawyer Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) had instituted a human rights enforcement litigation at the Lagos division of the Federal High Court which granted an injunction stopping the POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION aspect of the military operations nationwide which the Army authority respected. The Rights group said it was absurd that the House of Representatives revisited the matter even when the injunction is yet to be set aside and rubbished the judicial authority of the Court by asking the Army to disobey the Federal High Court and proceed with the positive identification.
HURIWA therefore expressed regrets that the integrity of the court system is under attack even from within the political class, the judiciary itself and security forces such as the State Security Services (DSS) that serially disobeys court orders. HURIWA said the height of the abuse of the independence of the Nigerian Court system began when the National Judicial Council cited a kangaroo ex-parte order from a quasi-judicial body like the Executive Arm’s controlled Code of Conduct Tribunal to rely on the controversial ex-parte order to unseat a sitting Chief justice of Nigeria Justice Onnoghen. HURIWA also blamed judges for pandering to the whims and caprices of the lawless Executive Arm of government by slamming obnoxious bail conditions against civil Rights leaders arrested illegally by the State Security Services.
“The most dangerous threats against national security similar in nature to that posed by terrorists, armed bandits, kidnappers, armed Fulani herdsmen, is the disobedience to court orders by the president and the security forces such as the SSS (DSS).”
However, HURIWA urged Nigerians to partner constructively with the military authority in the enforcement of internal security operations but cautioned the military operatives to abide by the rules of engagement and respect for the constitutional rights of the citizenry.
HURIWA noted that: “No policy government succeeds without public support. The war on terror is no exception. The primary way in which the law advocates support for the war on terror is the proscription of support for terrorism. Section 4(1) of the TPA provides that a person who knowingly, in any manner, solicits or renders support foran act of terrorism ora proscribed organization or an internationally suspected terrorist group, commits an offence under the Act and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years and a sentence of death where death results from the terror. It is interesting that support for terrorism is defined under subsection 3(c) to include offer or provision of moral assistance.”
“In same vein, section 5 of the PTA makes it a criminal offence to harbour, conceal or cause to be harboured or concealed a person known to have committed, or to have been convicted of an act of terrorism or a terror fugitive and makes such act punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term of 10 years,” HURIWA affirmed.
Also HURIWA stated that: “Also the TPA, under section 7, requires any one with useful information which could prevent the commission of terrorism or aid the apprehension of a suspect to supply such to the appropriate authority and failure to do so as soon as reasonably practicable is an offence which attracts a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years. Section 8 of the Act makes it criminal offence to disclose information which could prejudice the investigation of terrorist activities, so also is obstruction of the investigation of suspected terrorist activities.”
“It is in recognition of the need to support the fight against terrorism and promote national security that in the case of Achem v. F.R.N. (2014) LPELR-23202 (CA), the Court of Appeal per EKANEM, JCA at pages 16-17, paras. F-A held thus:
“It should be mentioned that the applicant was convicted and sentenced for offences relating to terrorism which in recent times have grown in intensity and magnitude, and have become a threat to our national security. Courts should therefore be very circumspect in granting bail pending appeal to a person convicted for any offence relating thereto.”
“Similarly, in the case of Dokubo-Asari v. F.R.N. (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 320, 358-359, the Supreme Court gave its nod of approval to the refusal to grant bail pending trial to the Appellant on ground, inter alia, of threat to national security.”
HURIWA then said the public must become decisive about terror by not only not supporting terrorists but also being willing to support the war.