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Increasing attacks on journalists signals failing democracy, says HURIWA

By Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
09 November 2019   |   4:15 am
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the growing incidence of violent attacks and detention of journalists by government officials as a sign that constitutional democracy...

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Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the growing incidence of violent attacks and detention of journalists by government officials as a sign that constitutional democracy was deteriorating in Nigeria.

HURIWA spoke against the backdrop of the report of physical brutality meted on a journalist, Mr. Abayomi Adeshida, and the destruction of his working gadgets at the State House by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) attached to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said there was a well-choreographed and coordinated attack against the media by the government.

According to the group, the development shows the growing desperation of government officials to beat back on critical voices so as to hide the clear failures of governance at all levels.“Nigeria is currently buffeted by all kinds of violence and attacks targeting purveyors of information and persons seen by federal and state government officials as independent-minded and because of the growing intolerance of plurality of opinions, holders of political power have unleashed brute force of state security forces to maintain the hook on power. The primary reason for this spate of attacks on the press is the high rate of official corruption by politically exposed persons in Nigeria,” HURIWA said.

In another development, the group has asked the Department of State Services (DSS) to comply with extant court orders and free Omoyele Sowere and Olawale Bakare on bail with immediate effect.It stated that the ongoing violation of the binding bail orders issued by a competent court of law is a gross violation of the constitution.

It also accused the Federal Government of displaying gross insensitivity by closing the country’s land borders. HURIWA described the closure of the land borders as a political gimmick to economically strangulate the Southeast of Nigeria where the clear majority of Nigerian businesses located within the West African sub-region come from.

It expressed shock that such policy was adopted with little or no consideration for the commercial and economic rights and legitimate business interests of millions of Nigerians who are cross-border entrepreneurs.

It said the implementation of the border closure without sacking inefficient border security managers goes to expose the naked hypocrisy of the charade.HURIWA wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the shutting of the land borders but has failed to address the central factor necessitating the action, which it noted, is linked to widespread inefficiency of border security architecture headed by the Nigerian Customs and Immigration, whose departmental heads are from the northern region. 

“It is suspected that the border closure at the same time with the deceitful shut down of the only international gateway to Igbo land, the Akannu Ibiam International Airport, is a premeditated but politically motivated policy which must be reviewed immediately. The Federal Government has not provided alternative superior arguments to defeat this well thought out groundswell of suspicions in the minds of millions of people of southern Nigeria origin.

“The unilateral border closure is surely hurting the economic rights of traders of Nigerian descent living in the West African nations of Ghana, Benin and Cameroon, made up essentially of persons of Southeast origin. This action is also a violation of the ECOWAS protocol relating to free movement of persons, residence and establishment, which Nigeria acceded to.”