ABUJA: Following the growing restiveness and the flare up of grave inter-ethnic conflagration and disharmony all across the country, the civil right group-Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take concrete steps to enforce rule of law and order, so as to promote national harmony.
The HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko who made the call on Monday at a press conference in Abuja, emphasized that the physical conflict of ethnicities flaring up everywhere must be extinguished by the President, the governors and all elected office holders, whose primary constitutional duty as spelt out in section 14 (2) (b)of the Nigerian Constitution, is to ensure the security of lives and property of all citizens.
HURIWA restated its call on the President to take immediate, comprehensive, transparent and lawful measures to bring all kinds of conflicts of Nationalities to an end.
Onwubiko who noted that HURIWA had earlier blamed the rise in inter-ethnic conflicts on the apparent double standards of the central government, added that their attention has been called to the position, that it is inaccurate to locate the blame squarely on the desk of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, “We accept this key point of correction. We have also been asked by some of our prominent members to correct the impression that there is a deliberate intention of Mr. President to refuse to prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen and that there is no empirical data to believe that there is an agenda to alienate any ethno religious nationalities in the redistribution of National offices. We are glad to hear this second opinion and we respect it.
“However, we will appeal to Mr. President to always respect equity and equality of rights in all his official conducts, even as we call on him to either suspend or query his Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) who even in writing, told us that arrested armed Fulani herdsmen who were hitherto paraded by the NPF here in Abuja will not be prosecuted because there is no case file.
“The Minister of Justice told us in a response to our request that ‘all the paraded armed Fulani herdsmen since 2015 must be prosecuted’. The impression conveyed by the Justice Minister is that a set of suspects are above the law only because of their ethnicity”, he pointed out.
While noting that this perception is damaging to the image of the government, and is totally irregular, unconstitutional and absolutely illegal, he called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, to order the AGF explicitly to either carry out the order to prosecute offenders or be dismissed from public office.
The HURIWA National Coordinator, who applauded the public statement of President Muhammadu Buhari, in which he directed that armed Fulani herdsmen and indeed all criminals must be made to face the full weight of the law, stressed that the ball is in the courts of the Justice Ministry to do the needful and for the Police to enforce the law by building up strong case against all criminals.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had flayed the reported cases of ethnic violence across the country, saying his government will protect all religious and ethnic groups in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Buhari, in a statement last night by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, vowed that his government will protect all religious and ethnic groups, whether majority or minority, in line with its responsibility under the constitution.
Reacting to reports of the breakout of violence in some parts of the country by some ethnic and sectional groups, the President warned that the government will not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke up hatred and violence against other groups.
He condemned such violence and gave assurances that his government will act decisively to stop the spread of any such violence.
Buhari appealed to religious and traditional leaders as well governors and other elected leaders across the country to join hands with the federal government to ensure that communities in their domain are not splintered along ethnic and other primordial lines.
Meanwhile, HURIWA also charged President Buhari to compel his Justice sector officials to either do their jobs or be fired.
Onwubiko said, “From all that we have seen so far since 2015, the failure of the Federal Attorney General to carry out transparent prosecution of all kinds of criminals no matter their ethnicity, is the primary cause of mass distrust in the government of President Buhari and when it is found out that there is a deliberate failure to prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen on the nebulous reason that there is no case file, you can now see why most people think there is double standard by this government”.
The Rights group suggested that: President Buhari and the National Assembly scrap the National Agencies for pteace and Conflict Resolution and the National Orientation Agency for failing in their duties; Appoint six zonal Presidential Advisers/peace envoys who would run their offices each in the geopolitical zonal headquarters, with the mandate to hold weekly dialogues with stakeholders in the grassroots; The traditional Institutions should be recognised in the constitution.
Other suggestions are that; There should be decisive action on the part of government to stop open grazing and encourage ranching of livestocks; Groups should not be allowed to issue expulsion orders on other ethnic groups as this offends the constitutional right to live wherever we choose to; and The Police Service Commission should be unbundled.