Posted by News Express | 15 September 2021 | 552 times
By PAMELA EBOH, Awka
A pro-democracy and environmental group, the Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), has lamented the continued adherence to sit-at-home orders in the South-East by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), noting that it is counter-productive.
FENRAD in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, Barr. Olusegun Bamgbose (Head Legal Team/ Litigation), Barr. Akande Femisi,
Head, Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement, said: “FENRAD does not think the ‘sit-at-home’ order presents a win-win situation for any party in the targeted region.
“This position stems from the fact that like self-determination, rights to work and receive commensurate payment, even to own and operate legitimate business too are all principles of the doctrine of human rights which no single human or group should deny another. People's rights should not themselves deny others theirs on whatever grounds.”
FENRAD regretted that the economic rights, both to work and to do business of people in the Southeast are not better served with the current Mondays sit-at-home observance given that bulk of the population in the region are daily wage earners, mostly in the informal sector.
While noting that the educational needs and rights of children and adults of the region which has enjoyed the reckoning of being the best among others has been hampered, it regretted that sit-at-home happened at the period of external examination, West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO).
FENRAD added: “To make matters worse, an online video making the rounds on internet showed where some armed thugs alleged to be members of IPOB chased external examination candidates away from their exam hall in Imo State. This, FENRAD says, is a condemnable act of terror!
“No available history ever taught that a people had to starve before reaching their promised land, aspiration or goal. Even the biblical Israelites ate manna and quail while their journey along the wilderness dragged. Again, people have still the right to freedom of association, or to hold any political view and must not, on ideological grounds, be forced to suffer or accept what they are not prepared for whether they support secession or not.
“An online release as per The Nigeria Lawyers showed that Southeast region loses ₦3 billion each Monday and went ahead to say the region would have lost ₦50 billion for only the first four Mondays business and other commercial activities were halted in the region. In all it is the region that is losing.
“This sit-at-home order is capable of causing a serious socioeconomic setback for the region known for her innovative industry and creative enterprise. For example, the worst-hit sector is road transportation sector, a source claimed. It bears repeating that this is a sector controlled chiefly by the region, and so what is the gain if the region loses while others gain in their various areas of strength. Does that give the region any favour in terms of comparative advantage?
“Investors, both foreign and local, would not want to operate in a climate where they cannot maximise their productive weekdays or where their returns are not guaranteed because of some stay-at-home order. Banks, schools, factories (both local and foreign), eateries, infirmaries, hospitals (in some cases), markets and the like have had to be shut down for consecutive five Mondays now, FENRAD laments. The fact that some lives, properties and chattels have all allegedly been destroyed, including vehicles and shops, renders the enforcement method of the order less appealing by far.”
Continuing, FENRAD observed that the most affected group is the common man, and not just the elite or governments of the five states who may not be as affected as such.
It stressed that the situation is not suitably ideal for a time like this given the hike in prices of goods and services like foodstuffs and other essential commodities such as premium motor spirit (PMS/fuel) and gas; biting double-digit inflation at 17%; decline in both independent and statutory revenue sources; economic contraction occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic and other problems facing the region.
The group called on all the agitators and their sympathisers to desist from violence and never allow their activities or philosophies get in the way of others in the region, reminding them that this twenty-first century.
FENRAD noted that if the region loses a mile at this time, it may not recover quickly like it did decades following the 1970s.
While describing economic boycott as a legitimate tool of protest, it stressed that such right should not impinge upon the rights of other people to hold any political opinion, but do legitimate business and live without fear of victimisation.
“This is not military era when a dictator once told the nation that where human rights end is where his rights started. Southeast governors should engage the federal government towards seeing that the issue of Kanu is settled once and for all. Also, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, other groups are enjoined to see to a peaceful and constructive end to it all as continued detention of Kanu by the Department of State Security (DSS) will keep making worse matters.
“This order likens to cutting off one's nose to spike one’s face, a no win-win for anyone, let people move freely about their businesses without any hindrance whatsoever.”
The group said it had keenly monitored the Mondays sit-at-home order issued by IPOB in the entire Southeast region as a protest measure against the unlawful “interception” and deportation of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently detained at DSS facility pending court trial for five weeks.
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