Pro-Biafra protest: HURIWA condemns police brutality, alleges plot to arrest National Coordinator

Posted by News Express | 23 October 2015 | 6,502 times

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the violent clampdown by armed police men of peaceful protesters in Port Harcourt, Enugu and other places, in which several people, including women were injured as primitive; despicable and reprehensible. The peaceful protesters were demanding the unconditional release of Mr Nnamdi Kanu, Director of the Europe-based radio station (IPOB), who was arrested on Sunday in Lagos, on arrival from the UK, by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS). He has since been kept incommunicado. Meanwhile, the group also alleged plans by the military authorities to arrest its leader Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.

This was contained in a media statement by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), endorsed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Media Affairs Officer, Miss Zainab Yusuf. The statement noted that the violence that characterised the break-up by Nigeria Police Force of the spontaneous but peaceful street protests by supporters of the pro-separatist movement's leaders amounted to gross human rights violation, which must be investigated by the National Assembly and the Federal Government.

HURIWA averred: “If no remedial mechanisms are activated by government to check the excesses of the armed security operatives with regard to the vicious attacks on protesters, then independent non-governmental organisations will proceed to invite the international community to intervene.”

 HURIWA also raised alarm that the Chief of Army Staff, Lieut-Gen Buratai is scheming to arrest and detain the leadership of the organisation because of its recent decision to invite the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate the July 31, 2015 attack and alleged killing by soldiers and police men of innocent traders at the Ariaria International Market, Aba, Abia State. It noted the association has just received an invitation from the Chief of Army Staff, through the military formation in Ohafia, Abia State, to appear before a panel with the affected traders,” following our earlier petition to the army chief.” HURIWA said it wrote a letter in August demanding an investigation, but after over a month of inaction it wrote another letter to the same Chief of Army Staff, disclosing the decision of the group to seek international intervention. But the group expressed shock that several weeks after it started generating evidence for onward transmission to the ICC for action, the military chief has now invited us.

HURIWA included a copy of the invitation in the press release it issued just as it has proceeded to petition the National Assembly to intervene and investigate the alleged extra-legal killing of traders and the attempt to detain its leader.

The rights group stressed that the attack on supporters of Mr Kanu by the Police, is a breach of Chapter Four of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which recognises the freedom of peaceful assembly and movement.

Specifically, it said that operatives of the Enugu State Police Command, on Tuesday fired canisters on pro-Biafra protesters at the Government House, Enugu, adding: “Similarly, peaceful pro-Biafra protesters were attacked and arrested by armed police in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and several other places,” condemning the human rights violations by police as primitive; despicable and reprehensible.

The statement noted that several persons, including three women were injured in the process of the violent repression of the peaceful protest in Enugu State. “Over 30 protesters had converged opposite the entrance to the main gate of the Government House, carrying placards with inscriptions such as Free Nnamdi Kanu, Nnamdi Kanu is a freedom fighter; We need justice…, before the police launched attack on them.”

HURIWA added: “According to a source, the women converged here with their placards as early as 10:30am; they comported themselves peacefully. Suddenly, heavily armed police men led by the Divisional Police Officer, New Haven, Enugu, CSP Okey Ambrose arrived at the scene. The witness said that the police officers initially pounced on the men who had accompanied the women for the protest during which 19 of them were arrested. The arrest made the women resolute and at this point the police fired tear gas directly at them during which the canisters hit some of them caused heavy bodily injury.”

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Adamu Mohammed, was reported to have arrived at the scene later.

The leader of the group, Mrs Onyekachi Ubenyi, according to HURIWA, was quoted by local media reports as saying that they were protesting the arrest of one Mr Nnamdi Kanu by the Department of State Security Services.The rights group has demanded immediate action to hold the unruly police operatives to account for their lawless act of brutality.

•Photo shows Comrade Onwubiko.

Source: News Express

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