Posted by News Express | 11 January 2016 | 2,835 times
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised the alarm over growing ranks of political prisoners under the current dispensation, even as it demands the release or arraignment of Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The rights group, which canvassed purification of the anti-graft mechanisms devoid of executive interference, listed Mr Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra/Director of the Europe-based Radio Biafra, Col.Sambo Dasuki, the erstwhile National Security Adviser and Chief Metuh, as some of the current political prisoners who are facing media trial because of their political convictions. It called on the United Nations to intervene and save Nigeria from sliding into a full blown dictatorship.
This was contained in the statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, against the backdrop of the prolonged detention-without-trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, on allegations that he was paid over a billion naira from the US$2.1 billion arms votes domiciled in the office of the immediate-past National Security Adviser. However, Metuh has reportedly denied the allegations. As a result, HURIWA tasked the nation’s media practitioners to do proper investigative reporting, to avoid spreading government propaganda over the alleged misapplication of the huge security vote by the former National Security Adviser, who has been charged in three different Federal High Courts over same offence, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
HURIWA noted: “Gentlemen of the media, we thank you for living up to your constitutional bidding, as the national conscience and the voice of the oppressed but politically persecuted citizens. But the media must step up her investigative role as envisaged in Section 22 of the Constitution, by not swallowing hook, line and sinker whatever tissues of propaganda dished out from the politically-tainted mouthpieces of public officials. Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution provides thus: ‘The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.’ ”
The rights group accused President Muhammadu Buhari of using the anti-graft agencies to spread propaganda meant to demonise the PDP, the main opposition -party in Nigeria today.
“Uninvestigated propaganda can go a long way in shaping public perception, based on half-truths and outright falsehood, as we now witness with all manner of comical stories on the use to which the so-called security (not defence budget) vote has generated in Nigeria, which was specifically choreographed to create soft-landing for the current political bullying and deployment of EFCC to harass, intimidate and physically detain top members of the political opposition in Nigeria, with the aim of creating a one-party state in Nigeria. We can now see why even members of PDP are running for federal/ presidential protection, because they believe that it's only in APC that salvation from EFCC's witch-hunt lies. PDP’s unprincipled members are jumping ship because they have seen that even former political office-holders with massive allegations of crime, including those who organised dinner for N82 million has gained presidential cover because they are in APC. The media must rise over dummies dished out to them. This Armageddon of media propaganda and trial must be stopped; so proper anti-graft crusade could be waged. If Nigeria is pushed into becoming a one-party state, and those with dissenting voices are chased around using EFCC, we will surely enthrone totalitarianism and those with courage to speak out but are too scared of being persecuted in the media by EFCC will go underground. Nigeria will be worst for it, because the next stage is for the FGN to go after independent media and genuine civil society stakeholders. And since Mr President said he can't respect court orders, and some persons are clapping, then we must be ready to live with full fledge dictatorship.”
URIWA called on EFCC to charge Metuh to court, if it has good enough evidence, and stop subjecting him to psychological and physical torture.
“Gentlemen, the recent clamp-down on top politicians belonging to the only vibrant opposition party in Nigeria, PDP, including the illegal detention of the publicity scribe of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, is a serious threat to civil democracy. Because his detention – based on nebulous allegation of involvement in the so-called sharing of the arms vote – is undemocratic and unconstitutional and this dictatorial pattern of using the mass media to dish out soft tissues of lies and outright propaganda just to score cheap publicity and corner the popular support of the largely uninvestigative minds of Nigerian media audience, is reprehensible, unacceptable and totally condemnable and is hereby condemned, because it amounts to media persecution of political opponents of the Federal Government. The attempt to silence opposition political voice is unwise and inimical to democracy and freedom of expression.”
•Photo shows President Buhari.
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