Posted by News Express | 26 July 2019 | 17,844 times
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has commended the disclosure by the United States government banning certain categories of Nigerian politicians from travelling to their country for undermining democracy in the run up to the 2019 polls.
The rights group said the decision represents a watershed in what is seen as a bold move by the world leader to save democracy from collapsing in Nigeria under the tyranny of President Muhammadu Buhari just as it stated that any visa restrictions that does not include the Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir el’rufai and the ministerial nominee from Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, who threatened violence in the run up to the 2019 polls, remains incomplete and should be reconsidered.
HURIWA said the duo of Elrufai and Akpabio, after making their grave threats against constitutional democracy, were backed by the President just as the rights group said it may be a phenomenal decision if the United States consider imposing traveling ban on President Buhari for his government's decision ordering a shoot-at-sight to armed security forces targeting alleged snatchers of ballot boxes.
In a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the Media Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that those threats may have precipitated the massive violence and large number of casualties that resulted from the election of 2019 which controversially returned the then incumbent President Buhari as the winner, while quickly reminding the US that even the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was culpable because its National Chairman threatened war should the incumbent President went ahead to rig the Presidential polls.
HURIWA listed other politicians who actively made open threats of violence before the polls to include the then Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who staged a so-called traditional war dance in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, and that of PDP, Mr. Uche Secondus.
It urged the United States government to also include the military commanders of the Nigerian Army in the oil-rich Rivers State reportedly accused of causing considerable chaos and violence in the state, adding that the commanders allegedly gave unlawful orders that resulted in fatalities.
HURIWA recalled that on February 6, 2019, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State threatened that foreign nationals who interfere in the forthcoming general elections would be given a “body bags treatment”, noting that a body bag is one used for carrying a corpse from a battlefield or the scene of an accident or crime to either a mortuary or place of burial.
The rights group stated that the Governor’s threat came barely a week after the Federal Government accused foreign powers, including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union of actions that could be deemed as interference, and warned of consequences.
HURIWA in the statement recalled that the developed nations had condemned the suspension of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over alleged non-declaration of assets, warning that the action taken by President Muhammadu Buhari could negatively affect the credibility of the forthcoming elections. The President went ahead to cajole the then Chief Justice into a hasty retirement.
The rights group said that Governor El-Rufai, who sought re-election under the ruling APC, spoke on a live programme on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) anchored by Cyril Stober.
It reminded the American government to remember that whilst making the threats of violence against foreign rlection observers, the Kaduna state governor had argued that it is a basic principle of international law that no country should interfere in the internal affairs of another country.
HURIWA quoted him as stating thus: “You can comment, but when you make statements on the internal affairs of a country without facts, that is interference and is very irresponsible. Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for those that will come and intervene, they will go back in body bags,” the Governor reportedly said.
HURIWA stated that el-Rufai arrogantly described Nigeria as an independent entity whose sovereignty would never be compromised in servitude to foreign powers, and continued his pro-violence rhetoric thus: “We are trying to run our country as decently as possible. Foreign countries have also had their own share of the challenges before attaining their current development strides.”
HURIWA recalled that the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, also issued threats while stating: “Today, by your mandate, we warn the Independent Ntional Electoral Commission (INEC) and we believe there are good people in INEC… we know that government is pressuring INEC to rig this election, but if they rig this election, they’re looking for war,” he said.
It quoted Secondus as also threatening violence as follows: “We want to also advise our security agencies — and we know there are good people there protecting lives and properties, which is their primary duty. We believe that they will obey the Constitution, not to break it like Mr. President is breaking our laws. They will obey the Constitution and be neutral, but if they don’t, if they join hands with INEC to rig this election, what are they looking for?"
“War,” the people chanted back.
On his part, the then Senator Godswill Akpabio who cross carpeted to APC from PDP threatened before the election that his party will invade Akwa Ibom state similar to how Hitler invaded Poland in 1945.
HURIWA stated that the USA's Visa ban will significantly help the advancement of democracy but was quick to remind the USA that President Buhari had ordered violent crackdown on members of the protesting Shiites Islamic Movement of Nigeria demanding the release of their detained leader.
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