Posted by News Express | 4 April 2020 | 729 times
Civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the reported widespread use of physical torture and the cases of extra-legal execution of Nigerians by suspected armed soldiers who purportedly violated the curfew imposed by the Federal Government as a measure to contain and curtail the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The rights group said that since President Muhammadu Buhari did not invoke Section 305 of the Constitution but relied on a pre-colonial Quarantine Act, it therefore follows that the provisions of the constitution especially chapter 4 of the Constitution cannot be abridged in a limited way in line with Section 45.
It noted that even in nations that are under a martial law, the right to freedom from torture is absolute and the right to life can't be wantonly violated.
HURIWA has therefore asked President Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to immediately arrest the soldiers who reportedly killed a youth in Warri, Delta State and the two soldiers seen on a viral video threatening to rape and infect mothers and young girls of Warri in Delta state with the Human Immune Virus (HIV) and other killer diseases in addition to the use of other physical harms as a way to retaliate what these “professionally-incompetent soldiers seen in that viral video” called the killing of a soldier in Warri.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that “it is becoming increasingly frightening that the armed security forces deployed to check the violations of the 14 days lockdown and other curfews imposed by other state governors, are viewing the present time of the health emergency caused by the sweeping trends of COVID-19 as same thing as a time of Martial Law or military dictatorship whereby the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended is suspended.”
HURIWA argued that it is practically impossible for the government that came in through democratic process to now seek to transform itself into a full dictatorship hiding under the Quarantine Law which lacks the power of override over the grund norm.
"We want to remind the Federal Government that the Quarantine law cited by the President a day after he declared the 14 days lockdown as the legal authority for his decision cannot and has no power to override the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is the law that the current head of the administration and his officials vowed and took oaths of offices to comply totally with.
“The Constitution is supreme and cannot be overridden by any other legislations or edicts because the provisions of the Constitution in Chapter 4 are explicit on the Absolute ban on the use of torture against the citizens. The President must be told in black and white that freedom from torture is one of the most universally recognized human rights. Torture is considered so barbaric and incompatible with civilized society that it cannot be tolerated. Torturers are seen as the ‘enemy of all mankind.’
“A number of institutions work to enforce the ban on torture, including the United Nation’s Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Court. President Buhari must note that he can be dragged before the International Criminal court in The Hague Netherlands for crimes against humanity perpetrated by soldiers during the current lockdown. This is because no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
“It is legally imperative that the Army Chief and the President make it clear to the soldiers that they are not permitted to carry out tortures against civilian populations no matter the provocation.
“We appeal to the Chief of Army Staff to immediately halt these criminal acts of infliction of physical torture and the use of extrajudicial killings against civilians by soldiers on the ongoing internally military operation connected to the lockdown.”
HURIWA argued that the steps adopted to contain the spread of the Coronavirus affliction are such that should be done to promote public good and therefore wondered how the widespread use of tortures by soldiers and police against civilians will serve the national interests, adding that “these brutes in military and police uniforms must be arrested; prosecuted and jailed for these serious of crimes against humanity.”
The rights group called on the governors of the 36 states and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to take transparent steps to call these various task forces to stop the use of tortures against the citizens or they will similarly be made suspects to be dragged to the International Criminal court in The Hague Netherlands for crimes against humanity.
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