The European Union (EU) yesterday said it was closely following recent developments in the case involving the publisher of Sahara Reporter, Omoleye Sowore and the Federal Government.
EU Ambassador, Ketil Karlsen, stated this in Abuja at an event to mark the International Human Rights Day and the grand finale of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.
The envoy noted: “As always, it is not for the EU to interfere in the judicial processes of countries where we operate but it goes without saying that we are following up very closely and we are hoping that there will be due process and the justice system will play its role as it is supposed to with full transparency which is necessary in any democracy.”
According to Karlsen, the bloc “stands very firm on the principle of freedom of speech and fundamental values as laid down in the universal declaration of human rights in the European convention of human rights.”
He submitted that in any democratic society, people must be allowed to participate as long as they seek peaceful means to voice their opinions.
Insisting that this was a crucial component of democracy, he added: “So, as a matter of principle, it is important that when somebody is detained, there is a due process that the justice system provides.”
On gender-based violence, the ambassador noted that the struggle could not be left for the international community alone, calling on government at all levels to show political will and prioritise the struggle.
However, the Executive Director of African Centre for Peace and Development, Senator Shehu Sani, has called on government to respect the constitution and the rule of law in all its dealings.
“Our human rights record as a nation presently is appalling, repugnant and odious,” he stated
The lawmaker described Nigeria as a “graveyard for human rights and a mortuary for rule of law.”
He added: “We cannot aspire to be a moral power in Africa and the world when the pages of the books of our laws and our constitution are used as toilet rolls and sanitary pads.”
Also yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) urged Nigerians to walk towards achieving a functional civil society community.
It also called for the decentralisation of the police to free it from the stronghold of the executive arm of government.
Its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko at a press conference in Abuja, stated that the civil society community “is not just about the CSOs, but about every individual asking the right questions and holding the government accountable all the times.” He added that democracy was as good as dead if Nigerians could not ask questions.
Buhari Signs Prisoner Swap Deal With Macao
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday assented to an agreement for the exchange of prisoners between the Nigerian government and the Macao government in China.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement.
Adesina disclosed that Buhari signing the bill was an aftermath of deliberations from the Federal Executive Council conclusion on August 1, 2018.
The presidential spokesman said the government had directed Nigeria’s attorney-general justice minister Abubakar Malami to prepare the instrument of ratification of the agreement for the President Buhari’s signature.
“President Buhari’s assent formally executes the Agreement,” Adesina said.
Nigeria Will End North-East Insurgency Just Like Civil War — Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that Nigeria will soon see the end of the insurgence that has bedeviled the North-Eastern part of the country in the last few years.
He gave the assurance on Friday at the State House in Abuja while receiving the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, saying that Nigeria had seen similar occasions in the past, but managed to overcome and forged on.
The President also assured that the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will effectively manage all attendant crises from the insurgency.
Recalling his experience of the Nigerian Civil War, the President noted that the current security challenge in the North-East, though might take some time, will also be subdued, saying “If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganised our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it”.
According to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari emphasised the devastating effect of the Libyan crisis on the whole of the Sahel region of the continent, citing the activities of terror groups in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso in recent times.
He, however, assured the European Union envoy of Nigeria’s continued cooperation with the EU, saying “I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas.
“Our priorities in the next level is to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, are rehabilitated so that livelihood should be established and the children should not lose the opportunity to go back to school, which is very important for the future of that area and Nigeria generally.
“We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army, each commander had in his pocket how to behave himself and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see for themselves that people are treated in the most humane way. We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel that Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis, it may take long but we are capable of handling it.
“The important thing really is weapons reaching the Sahel; the instability it is causing. Look at the casualties in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali; Libya has a direct impact on the stability of the Sahel. As for Boko Haram, we try to disabuse the mind of the people and I think our people now understand the basic dishonesty in it. With my experience personally in the civil war, I am sure we will get over it.
“I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is coordinating NEMA and others, to make sure that whatever resources we get are well utilised. The ministry will be accountable to the government instead of having too many bodies doing the same thing. We are also reaching out to foreign countries explaining to them our position, and we are confident we will get over it”, the President said.
The EU Commissioner emphasized that Nigeria plays a big role in the African continent and globally in economic, social and other spheres and asked for the development of a plan between the EU and Nigeria concerning the issues in the Northeast. He said he had visited Borno State and appreciates government’s efforts to end the conflict there.
“We would like to support your efforts. We believe all relevant actors; military, civilian as well as humanitarian should come together. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is suggesting such high level dialogue.
“In situations such as what we have in the northeast, international law and international humanitarian law should apply. We believe in your efforts to end the conflict; military effort alone probably will not be sufficient without identifying and addressing the socio-economic factors causing it,“ he stated.
I Never Said Amotekun Is Illegal — Malami
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has denied declaring the South-West regional security outfit codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’ illegal.
He stated he was misquoted on his interpretation of the outfit established by the six South West Governors.
Responding to chat on Radio Nigeria Abuja on Thursday morning, Malami said: “I was misinterpreted on Operation Amotekun. I did not say it’s illegal.
“I said the Operation Amotekun should be properly backed by law, so if at the end of this government, if the operation has been backed by law, any government that eventually succeeded this government would not rubbish the operation.
“I said if they failed to enact a law in support of Amotekun in the South-West Region of Nigeria, another government can come and say it’s illegal and this is because it is not backed up by any law.
“So, it is just a piece of advice to the state governors to use their power and the State Houses of Assembly in their various states to enact a law that will make the operation more effective.”
However his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, maintained that the constitution did not recognise regional security outfit.
Gwandu quoted Malami as insisting that regional security architectural arrangement by states was not tolerated by the constitution.
The minister said: “The planning, execution, consummation of whatever security arrangement must be naturally grounded in law, rooted in the constitution and tolerated by the law.
“For any arrangement to stand within the law, the bottom line is that constitutionality and legality must be factored.
Read Also: Ondo Obas to SW Governors: Begin Operation Amotekun now
“Provided that there is an aberration relating to constitutional compliance, I think the right thing to do is to ensure constitutionality and legality both in spirit, planning, concept, and consummation.
“If you are talking of regional arrangement, for example, at what point did the state assemblies come together as a region for the purpose of coming up with a statue or a law that can operate within the context of the constitution, taking into consideration the federating arrangement that does not allow or tolerate a regional state House of Assembly arrangement.
“You cannot independently, unilaterally operate in the provision of the constitution without recourse to the constitutional authority that is the bottom line.
“Working together, helping the Federal Government in the provision of security is indeed a welcome development but it has to be rooted in the law and within the context of working arrangement with institutions constitutionally established and not a unilateral exclusive arrangement by a regional body.
“In the circumstances of Amotekun, it is the idea of unilateral control that it is the problem without recourse to the institutional and constitutional arrangement that is put in place by our constitution.
“You can indeed provide whatever support and consideration but definitely it must be rooted in the constitutional arrangement and so self-help by way of unilateral arrangement cannot be tolerated with particular reference to a regional arrangement which is not rooted in the constitution within the context of security.”