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By News Express on 23/09/2017

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A certain Emmanuel Otairu, who identified himself as someone attached to Centre for International and Strategy Studies, Abuja wrote a vexatious, libellous, false and jaundiced piece, which he apparently syndicated, a short while ago. I have just read it on the website of an online media, in which the fictitious or hired hack-writer made a number of allegations, which are not just ridiculous, laughable, fictitious and infantile, but criminally libellous. 

This brief rejoinder to those unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations -  made up of diatribes and innuendos - will not descend to the gutter-level that the so-called Otairu took himself and his opinionated hogwash to; because, as a  professionally-trained media practitioner with over two decades of experience, I'm vast in media law to know when not to elevate pure fabrications to the media space which ought to be objective, balanced and truthful.

But the import of this rejoinder is to make quick points to first and foremost, inform this delusional writer that, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), is a reputable civil society organisation set up about 10 years ago, as the mouthpiece of the oppressed, disaffected, distressed and abused persons, and to partner with corporate individuals and institutions to engage in constructive dialogues on how best to promote the human rights of Nigerians of all ethno-religious orientations, and even those who profess no religion, because we are totally non-religious and non-political.

HURIWA has been around long enough all through the periods of the Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Yar’ Adua/Goodluck Jonathan and, now Muhammadu Buhari's administrations. We have consistently preached the message of human rights and the supremacy of the rule of law and the constitution.  We have in the last 10 years organised over two dozen human rights lectures, covering extensive thematic areas: human trafficking, energy rights, media rights, gender equality, and disability rights, among others. 

Only last year, we organised a widely-reported national human rights lecture, in which we honoured many distinguished personalities and institutions, including Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, for the introduction of the Human Rights Desk for the Nigeria Army. Our last book made up of 1014 pages - entitled Who Cares About Human Rights? - was bought in large quantity and circulated to Army formations. We don't want to believe that the PR/Media Department of Nigerian Army - made up of intelligent people or the chief of army staff, a well-learned officer - could have procured this poor writer, Emmanuel Otairu, to originate these falsehoods against a very credible organisation like Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria. We never wanted to honour this writer with a filthy response, like the way he wrote, but we decided to correct some absolutely and unacceptable falsehoods he has succeeded in deceiving the online publishers to upload, so the readers will have the benefit of hindsight. We are not perturbed by his threat to circulate our call-logs because, as a well-known human rights campaigner, my telephone communications are minitored by the intelligence community. 

In our human rights and strategic media interventions, we have had to defend the internally displaced persons, women in abusive marriages, soldiers and members of the security forces whose rights are abused, relationships and communities experiencing human rights violations. We have also defended poor and unemployed Nigerians. We have very often condemned attacks and killings of soldiers and police by assailants and criminals. We believe in the sacredness of life. We have also thrown our weight to the fight against corruption and the counter-terror war against Boko Haram terrorists. We have defended educational rights of children on the streets, and we have defended girls forced into early marriages. We defended the people of Zamfara State who were attacked by cattle rustlers. So, in all of these, why didn't this Otairu also brand HURIWA as the NGO wing of the Army or IDPs or Almajiris? Wonders shall never end, especially with cash-and-carry hack writers.

We defended the petty traders in Lagos, when the Lagos State government banned street trading, and we have continued to defend petty traders in Abuja.  We defended the current Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS)  when some politicians kicked against his appointment, because of allegations that he was the security head of the then Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari's presidential campaign council. We defended President Muhammadu Buhari when he spent many days in foreign hospital and people were playing politics with his health status. We canvassed the appointment by President Buhari of the representative of the millions of physically challenged persons. In the same way, we are also defending the human rights of members of the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who have had brushes with the police and soldiers.

We are opposed to the military occupation of the South-east of Nigeria. We have criticised the lethargic attitudes of Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari's administrations towards checking incessant violent attacks of farming communities by armed Fulani herdsmen. We criticised President Jonathan for not battling comprehensively the Boko Haram terrorists, even when the then opposition party members, including the current president and governor of Kaduna State, lambasted Jonathan for going after Boko Haram terrorists and imposing emergency rules in three North-eastern states of Nigeria. HURIWA defended the people of Agatu of Benue, Dogo Nahawa in Jos, Barkin Ladi of Plateau State, Southern Kaduna and Tivland, when they were attacked by armed Fulani herdsmen. 

 We criticised jungle justice and parade of suspects, and we have been at the forefront of defending the rights of citizens who canvassed for self-determination, because we know that international human rights law so recognised this right. We have done over 100,000 media interventions on diverse issues, which this lazy hack-writer could have easily googled from the Internet. 

We have authored monthly magazines, Icons of Human Rights, and we run regular columns locally and internationally. We run an online newspaper -

HURIWA is a membership organisation opened to those who are qualified. We are independent. We are not the NGO wing of any group whatsoever and we do our work without demanding payments. As a non-profit body, we welcome donations even from Emmanuel Otairu, if he is moved by the Holy Spirit and is credible, without EFCC case. 

He, therefore, needs to do more research to understand how we operate. We fear no threats, even as we have on many occasions been attacked directly and indirectly, but God has always been on our side because we are on the side of truth and the oppressed. 

The fact that we had partnered with the Army doesn't mean we should be silent in the face of gross human rights violations, such as what have happened in the South-east of Nigeria. 

Lastly, we believe in Nigeria. But, we also believe in a thoroughly restructured Nigeria, where equality of rights, equity, social justice will reign supreme. 

We believe that the Nigeria Army must be professionalized, and not administered like an ethnic or religious contraption. Also, we believe that the strategic assets of the Army must be decentralized, since the Army is the Nigerian peoples’ Army, and not Northern Nigeria or Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri Army. 

The irrational inference to some hate-filled fears for not locating these military assets across the six geopolitical zones of the country, as made by this Otairu, doesn't hold water. He has exposed the reason for attacking us to be that he is Igbophobic. He deserves psychological and emotional healing so he can see all citizens as equal. We sympathise with him.

Lastly, it makes no sense accusing whoever defends any group members' constitutional rights not to be extra-judicially killed by the armed security forces as a sympathiser of such groups' ideas. Mr Otairu, you are still in the bad old days of Gen Sani Abacha dictatorship, whereby critics are tagged as coup plotters. Wake up and read good books on modern trends on human rights and constitutional democracy. Wake up and stop your reactionary rhetoric.

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via 

Source News Express

Posted 23/09/2017 8:48:14 PM


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