(Intersociety & SBCHROs, Nigeria: 22nd March 2017)-The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) are deeply shocked and dismayed concerning the ongoing sponsored attacks by the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria against the Nigerian Section of Amnesty International, using hired street urchins and laptop based groups; claiming to be human rights groups.
Recall that Amnesty International (AI) is a leading rights group and internationally respected corporate body, based in the United Kingdom and created by Peter Benenson and his associates in 1961. It operates beyond borders and maintains its advocacy presence in the 193-Member States of the United Nations and some 45 other non independent States and trusteeship territories in matters of all human rights recognized under the United Nations and African Union Systems, particularly as it concerns civil and political rights. In Nigeria, civil and political rights are made justiciable by Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution. AI also maintains its internationally respected and standardized advocacy presence and jurisdiction over the world’s current 10million Stateless persons; 65.3million forcibly displaced persons and 21.3million refugees, totalling 96.6million persons (see UNHCR 2017).
Amnesty International monitors, too, conflict environments involving inter and intra State conflicts or armed conflicts within borders and armed conflicts beyond borders and evaluates the compliance or otherwise of the parties or combatants (government and its security forces and the armed opposition groups) with the Geneva Conventions or Laws of War of 1949 and its Protocols as well as other international rights and humanitarian laws and principles. In non war or non conflict situations, Amnesty International monitors the policies and conducts of government and its coercive agencies to ensure that they conform at all times with local (constitutional), regional and international human rights norms.
Amnesty International had in the past years particularly in the 1990s maintained a Section (Nigerian Section) in Nigeria. It closed same due to unfriendly environment and other unbearable factors. But barely two years ago, AI returned to Nigeria and opened its office which is located at 10A, Usuma Street, Maitama, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Nigeria. AI had in recent times beamed its advocacy searchlight on Nigeria and in the last two years, the internationally respected rights group had evaluated the present Federal Government’s handling of lawful assemblies and religious processions; insurgency and counter insurgency operations in the Northeast and handling of civilian populations in conflict areas. Others areas evaluated are torture, unlawful killings, extra judicial executions, enforced disappearances, unlawful arrests and detention without trial and forced evictions, etc.
We are therefore shocked and alarmed at the raging campaigns of calumny and State terror being unleashed on the respected international rights group by the agents of the present Federal Government of Nigeria headed by Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari. It is shocking too that the Government that parades professors of law and highly ranked civil rights activists as its officials, supporters or consultants can engage in this type of show of shame with its dire international diplomatic and relations consequences.
The ongoing State terror and campaigns of calumny against the authorities of Amnesty International also expose the present Government’s gross illiteracy and ignorance on the workings of modern international relations and diplomacy which are strongly traditionalized in human rights and citizens’ sovereignty without borders. They further expose same as highly intolerant political leadership and gross and unrepentant rights abuser. The panicky response of the Buhari Administration by sponsoring the ongoing attacks against AI is a clear admission of guilt and un-readiness and unwillingness of same to make amends over its grossly poor human rights abuses.
It is recalled that this is not the first time under this Administration that such Yorean campaigns of calumny and State terror are being launched against AI and its likes. Some individuals and their groups had at one time or the other been hired and ferried to UK to make watery counter representations against the groups over its credible reports on Nigeria. There had been sponsored print and electronic media interviews, adverts and programs all designed to malign and lampoon AI over its credibly and well researched reports bordering on gross rights abuses in Nigeria or any part thereof.
Apart from the denial virus that hit the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Nigerian Army following issuance of AI reports, leprous and nonexistent groups like “Global Amnesty Watch” and “Global Peace & Rescue Initiatives (GOPRI)” have also been created using laptops, all for the purpose of terrorizing AI into fear and abandonment or recanting of its well researched reports. Hundreds of educated and uneducated street urchins have also been recruited, hired and commissioned to protest and picket the AI Nigerian office. Yet, the same Government that has consistently shown its gross intolerance to peaceful assemblies and democratic free speeches leading to its killing of over 1500 unarmed and defenceless regional and religious activists, did not turn its same killer arsenal against hired and sponsored anti AI protesters.
We call on the present Federal Government of Nigeria under Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw its hired and sponsored street urchins and their laptop created groups off the Amnesty International office in Nigeria and stop any form of threats and campaign of calumny against the world’s respected international corporate personality. The Government must be reminded that it has an inexcusable duty under Section 14 (2) (b) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution to protect Amnesty International, its staff and personnel in Nigeria at all times. Sponsoring and inciting hundreds of educated and uneducated street urchins against the world’s respected rights body is a serious threat to international peace and security and a clear attestation of its culpability in all gross rights abuses the same Government is being accused of perpetrating. It further darkens what remains of Nigeria’s image at regional and international levels.
Rather than beating about the bush by involving itself in this type of infamy and show of shame, the Buhari Administration must as a matter of inexcusability, investigate all the gross rights abuses raised in the AI Reports as well as the recent Special Report of Intersociety (Welcome To Bleeding Republic Of Nigeria: A Land Flowing With Blood & Tears). All those involved in the gross rights abuses must be fished out, dismissed from Service and prosecuted. Adequate compensations to the tune of $5Billion must be set aside for the compensation of identified group and individual victims of State crimes. Further State killings and Nomad Fulani Jihadist killings such as the latest butchery in Benue State must be halted and those responsible fished out and punished.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
1. Comrade Aloysius Attah (+2348035090548)
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Southeast Zone
2. Comrade Peter Onyegiri (+2347036892777)
For: Centre for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy
3. Comrade Samuel Njoku (+2348039444628)
For: Human Rights Organization of Nigeria
4. Engineer Rufus Duru (+2348037513519)
For: Global Rights & Development International
5. Comrade Chike Umeh ( +2348064869601)
For: Society Advocacy Watch Project
6. Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. (+2348034186332)
For: Anambra Human Rights Forum
7. Florence Akubilo, Esq. (+2349025567114)
For: Southeast Good Governance Forum
8. Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD (+2348035372962)
For: International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative
9. Comrade Vincent Ezekwume (+2348171793911)
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch