Posted by News Express | 13 June 2016 | 3,890 times
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has advised the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) to seek legal redress from a competent court of law over the recent invasion of its offices by the Department of State Services (DSS).
This was in response to a petition sent to some foreign embassies and the ECOWAS secretariat by HURIWA over the invasion of its headquarters by the Nigerian Secret Police, which offends relevant provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. In the letter the rights group had urged ECOWAS and the embassies to use their good offices to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to let all credible groups operate within the bounds of the law, “without executive intimidation and psychological threats which sometimes snowball into confrontation and arrest.”
Responding to the petition, ECOWAS, in a letter signed by the Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs/Peace and Security, Halima Ahmed, directed HURIWA to seek legal redress in the Nigerian court system or proceed to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.
“Thank you for your letter dated 9th May, 2016 relating to your “petition over the invasion of our office by the Department of State Service on Monday May 9th 2016.
The ECOWAS commission appreciates your request to address the concerns you have raised as they impact on the respect for individual human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. In the same vein, the ECOWAS Commission respects the principle of sovereignty of States when it comes to the issue of primary responsibility for respect of human rights,” wrote Ahmed, adding:
“In the light of the above, we would advise you take necessary steps to present this matter before the competent court of jurisdiction in Nigeria. If still not satisfied, you may refer the matter to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, which has first instance jurisdiction to address issues of human rights abuse.”
Recall that HURIWA had in the petition, signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated: “We write to bring to your notice the unsavoury and an unusual affront to constitutionalism that happened today in our office. At exactly 11.45am, barely 15 minutes to the commencement of a scheduled press conference on the theme of insecurity in Nigeria, a team of the Nigeria Secret Police known as Department of State Services invaded our office and demanded to attend our media conference even when it was strictly a media event in which only few media representatives from the print and electronic were invited by text messages. They didn’t however show any sign that they want to harm us physically.”
In the letter, Comrade Onwubiko cited chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, which recognises the Right To Freedom: Personal Privacy; Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.
He noted that although the two DSS operatives looked harmless and even said they were on ‘a friendly visit’, he smelt a rat.
He wrote: “We are appealing to you to use your good offices to call the Nigerian State to respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, the Universal declaration of human rights and the African Charter on Peoples and Human rights.”
•Photo shows HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.
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