Group demands immediate release of Rivers ‘political prisoners’ •Threatens to drag FG to UN Human Rights Council

Posted by News Express | 29 August 2013 | 6,091 times

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The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has decried the continuous detention under inhumane conditions at the Kuje Prison Abuja of allies of Rivers State Governor. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

The group has therefore demanded the immediate release of Mr. Charles Amaefule, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s factional chairman in Omuma Local Government of Rivers State, and Mr. Godwin Leo.

HURIWA also demanded the quashing of what it called “the politically motivated charges slammed on them by the police hierarchy in a matter not unconnected with the raging political crisis in Rivers State.” It asked the nation’s police “to stay off political infighting or to conduct itself as a neutral arbiter in the entire political scenario since the Nigerian Police Force is a creation of the Constitution for the purpose of maintaining law and order and not to be manipulated to achieve pre-conceived political witch-hunting of political opponents of the Abuja political authority.”

In a statement jointly singed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Officer, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA condemned “the ignominious roles played by both the office of the Inspector General of police and the Abuja magistrate court which slammed harsh bail condition even when it is clear that the charges are politically-motivated and mere fabrications which may not stand the test of credibility.”

It threatened to petition the United Nations Human Rights Council if within 48 hours the alleged political prisoners from Rivers State are not granted bail on liberal grounds by the Abuja judiciary.

Besides, the rights group has tasked the Inspector General of Police on the urgent need to remove the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, “who is alleged to have conducted his official duties in a manner that shows partisanship and lack of professionalism in handling the political upheavals in the oil rich Rivers State.” HURIWA said the failure of the police hierarchy to remove the police commissioner “in total disrespect to the directive and resolutions of both the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a manifestation of unprecedented political manipulation of the Nigerian Police Force and the lack of respect for the principle of separation of power recognised by the Nigerian Constitution.”

Said HURIWA: “We view the continued detention of the duo at the Kuje Prison under harsh conditions as reprehensible, despicable and outrageous. We are particularly worried that one of these political detainees – Mr. Charles Amaefule has a medical condition which demands close monitoring by his private medical doctor in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and yet he is subjected to this inhumane and an unfortunate situation. For democracy to thrive, the federal government must stop deploying federal might through the instrumentality of federal cohesion of the Nigerian police force to haunt down perceived political opponents. The Nigerian Police Force has clearly taken side with the Abuja political establishment by going after political affiliates of the embattled Rivers State Governor – Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.

“The continued detention of Mr. Charles Amaefule even with the said medical condition is a clear breach of his fundamental human rights to the dignity of his person protected under chapter four of the Nigerian constitution and his right to personal liberty under section 35(1) of the constitution,” HURIWA stated.

HURIWA had earlier faulted the ‘harsh’ bail conditions granted the duo by the trial Chief Magistrate Court which ordered that they be only released when two sureties signed their bail bonds and that one of the sureties be a resident in Abuja, one of whom must be a level 12 civil servant with a landed property in Wuse Zone 6 Abuja where the court is located. The magistrate court also slammed N1 million bail to each of the accused persons. 

The rights group said some of the conditions may be unattainable given that the duo are said to be loyal to the River state Governor who is said to be having political differences with President Jonathan who is the defacto ‘Governor’ of the Federal Capital Territory. The rights group said it may be impossible for a top level civil servant in Abuja to risk his career by accepting to take any of the political prisoners into bail. HURIWA said since bail was within the discretion of the presiding magistrate, the defendants would have been granted bail on liberal grounds given the political scenario that characterised their arrest and prosecution by the Nigerian Police Force. The statement by HURIWA was made after a team of top officials of the organisation embarked on an advocacy visit to the Kuje prison at the weekend.

Photo shows Chief Justice of the Federation Alaoma Muktar.

Source: News Express

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