HURIWA writes AGF, demands prosecution of IGP over killing of pro-Biafra protesters

Posted by News Express | 11 December 2015 | 2,824 times

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Frontline pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on the nation’s chief law officer, Minister of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to prosecute the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, for his role in the killing of over half a dozen peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in Onitsha, Anambra State, last week.

In the letter signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation has 21 working days within which to determine how best to bring the serving Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, to justice over his unlawful order to armed police operatives, which allegedly  led to the violent break-up and killing of some protesters during the peaceful demonstration staged by thousands who were demanding the immediate, unconditional release – from the underground cells of the Department for State Security Services (DSS) – of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of the Europe-based Radio Biafra.

This was contained in a media statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, which said HURIWA decided to take this systematic approach of urging the relevant legal authorities at the highest level in Nigeria, to take steps to prosecute persons who abuse their power by authorising unlawful killings, because it believes that only when impunity is extinguished that we can make constructive progress in deepening democracy and respect for the principle of Rule of Law and Constitutional democracy.

HURIWA explained: “Our resolve to exhaust local judicial and remedial mechanisms to obtain redress and justice for the victims of unlawful killings is overwhelming, but this won’t stop us from exploring global approach to ensure that government officials and top police and military chiefs who issues unlawful orders that lead to the extra-legal killings of Nigerians are brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for prosecution over crimes against humanity.”  

Following is an excerpt of the letter sent to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice entitled  ‘Petition For The Prosecution of IGP Over Unlawful Order That Precipitated The Alleged Killings of Peaceful Pro-Biafra Protesters’:

“With hearts dripping with sorrow and lamentation over the needless shedding of blood by armed security operatives, which occurred when these security operatives broke into  the peaceful civilian and completely unarmed protesters demanding the release of Mr Nnamdi Kanu in Onitsha, Anambra State, last weekend.

“As genuine  and patriotic stakeholders who consistently clamour for social justice, respect for the constitutional tenets of human rights and the Rule of Law in our fatherland, Nigeria – we are writing you this letter to demand that as the Chief Law Officer – that you put machinery in motion to defend the Constitution of Nigeria by ensuring that the Inspector-General of Police Mr Solomon Arase is  brought to account for the illegal and unconstitutional acts of violence that was unleashed on peaceful demonstrators barely 24 hours after his office issued a threat to quell the peaceful protests.

“As your good self is aware, Section 33(1) provides:

“Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.

“It is our considered position that the deployment of lethal force to quell an otherwise peaceful protest amounts to extra-judicial killing; and from available evidence this violence unleashed on the peaceful protesters happened within few hours after the unlawful directive from the IGP to confront these demonstrators. We suspect that the security operatives who allegedly shot at civilian protesters may have derived their motivation from the widely published order from the office of the IGP.

“We hereby tender for your attention and subsequent lawful action the printed evidence of all the threats that were issued from the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, against the peaceful pro-Biafra protesters. We strongly feel that his press statement and directive precipitated the violence which was allegedly unleashed on these tumultuous crowds of peaceful protesters, resulting in the alleged killing of over nine persons, including a female student, who was allegedly hit by a stray bullet from the police in Onitsha. 

“The press reports of the casualties that happened when the combined team of security operatives violently broke up the picketing by the civilian protesters of the Onitsha head bridge can be found all over the Internet, but we have also included this piece of information  for the benefit of easy reading. We have titled the published evidence as Annexure. Sir, we are doing this in order to fulfill the condition of exhausting local judicial remedies before other global steps maybe adopted to obtain justice and redress for these unarmed civilians killed in their prime by the overzealous security operatives on the express orders of the Inspector General of Police Mr Arase, who issued an ambiguous media directive to his men and officers regarding the peaceful marchers in Onitsha head-bridge. We believe in your ability and patriotic zeal to do the needful on time so that the international community will not go with the perception that government and security officials are at liberty to issue unlawful threats which could result in the unlawful execution of civilians, and the indicted officials are allowed to go without prosecutorial sanctions for this range of crime against humanity. Sir, kindly end this police brutality and impunity.

“Kindly furnish us with the steps your good office intends to take within the next 21 days to obtain remedial justice for these Nigerians killed for simply exercising their fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, guaranteed by the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR), amongst other international humanitarian laws, which Nigeria signed on to as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

Photo shows Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.

Source: News Express

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