By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) over the weekend marked its 10 years anniversary in which it also honoured outstanding Nigerians as Human Rights Icons.
Some of the Human Rights Award winners for 2017 includes; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Borno state Governor, Hon. Kashim Shettima; Senator Samuel Anyanwu; Senator Hope Uzodinma; Mr. Wisdom Wakama; Sen. Osita Izunaso; Segun Olaniyi of the Guardian and a taxi driver Abubakar Hassan who returned lost items that included cash found in his car back to the owner.
In his opening speech, the HURIWA’s Founding Chairman, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko advised the federal government to as quickly as possible scrap the Ministry of Women Affairs or better still make it a department under the presidency, noting that the ministry has become moribund.
He noted with dismay that the Ministry has not upheld its duty of fighting Gender violence, as rape cases have been on the increase daily and also took a swipe at the Ministry for its inability to hand out sanitary pads to disadvantaged girls, maintaining that the Ministry should be scrapped.
According to him, “The awards HURIWA gave to some Senators was to encourage the National Assembly to partner with the Presidency to reinvigorate a presidential department for women and children affairs,the Ministry of Women Affairs are not doing anything for the women and the girl child”.
Onwubiko also appealed to the National Assembly to make rape an offence punishable by death especially for consistent rapists.
“We are of the opinion that people who rape should face the firing squad, the rate of violent rape in the society is not being met with the same force of law enforcement. The Police are not professionally trained to handle delicate and complex issues around rape.
“I think Nigeria needs to take the issue of rape much more serious and we call on the wives of public office holders to stop chasing shadows and embarking on irrelevant works and publicity but should engage in fighting the menace of Violent sexual molestation and attack of young boys and girls”.
The HURIWA Chairman opined that the coming to power of the current President has taken away a lot of strong voices in the civil society, stating that “these people don’t speak today because so many NGOs have signed up to the APC, it seems Lagos NGOs are even dead now, they have gone to party with Tinubu” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Prince Elvis Agukwu commended HURIWA for being one of the most reputable in Nigeria and African, adding that many human right groups went to sleep after the elections and have not been heard of.
“Many of the groups took part in series of demonstrations that led to the hurried exist of the military and ushered in the Democratic dispensation but they have gone on extinct. I want to thank HURIWA for keeping the flag flying and making it possible to know and appreciate that there are human rights activists in the country” he said.
Also, the Borno State Governor, Hon. Kashim Shettima, who was represented by Isa Gusau, Special Adviser on Communications and strategy, thanked HURIWA for the award, adding that the Borno state government will support the association in any way it can.
He further noted that HURIWA works with conscience and does not go personal on its activities as he stressed that the award is worth more than any award the Governor will get.
Speaking to The Sight News, Abubakar Hassan, the Taxi driver who was honoured as the most Honest Nigerian, expressed happiness and gratitude to HURIWA for the award.
He also encouraged other drivers like him to tow the right part by returning items to the owners when they are found rather than keeping them back.
He said, “Drivers in the Nigeria like me, when something like this happens, its better for the driver to look for the owners of the load, phones can fall off in cars and some people switch them off instead of returning them to the owners, it is bad”.
HURIWA is a dream that became alive in the early part of the year of 2007 in Abuja and has devoted all her resources to expose the different levels of gross violations of the rights of Nigerians of all affiliations and has successfully published and circulated over 100,000 free copies of fliers containing the universal declarations of Human Rights.