The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has endorsed the popular decision of brave Imo citizens to stage series of peaceful protests against current serial and gross misgovernance and alleged corruption by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.
Besides, HURIWA has strongly condemned as primitive, retrogressive, unconstitutional and anti-people the plot by the Imo State Police Command to undermine the pro-democracy “Occupy Imo” campaign by completely peaceful Imo State citizens and supporters of genuine democracy and good governance.
HURIWA stated that the right to peaceful assembly is constitutionally sacrosanct and inviolable and wondered why the police has imposed an unconstitutional duty on itself to scuttle the enjoyment of the constitutionally guaranteed right to free assembly which is at the core of constitutional democracy.
In a statement issued to the media against the backdrop of reports of police brutality in Imo state and totalitarian attempts by armed security forces to violently break-up the civil protest, HURIWA asked the National Assembly to defend democracy and civil rule by cautioning the Imo State Police Command and the police hierarchy in Abuja to comply by constitutional provisions and protect human rights.
“HURIWA condemns absolutely the attack on civil liberty as exemplified by the brute and crude measures put in place by the Imo State police command to frustrate the peaceful holding of civil demonstration against the apparent and glaring maladministration, high-handedness, dictatorship, lack of good governance and total breakdown of respect for the civil liberties of citizens of Imo State.
“The citizens have the constitutional freedom to protest against the current bonanza of extra budgetary spending of multimillion Naira by governor Okorocha to invite rogue foreign leaders such as Jacob Zuma of South Africa and to erect uselessly idol-minded statues in a strategic area of the Imo State capital. The Imo people have the right to demand good governance and open government which is lacking in Imo State due to nepotism and discriminatory use of Imo resources to service bogus projects and offices controlled by biological family members of Okorocha”.
“The Imo state house of assembly is a typical example of a house of horror whereby the members behave like persons from extraterrestrial universe and completely cut off from the heartbeats of Imo State citizens. In the last seven years under the current administration in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha has converted governance to nepotistic family affairs and have embarked on a spending spree and widespread alleged brigandage and wanton looting of resources but the assembly is weak and docile”.
“The decision of the organizers of the occupy Imo protest to speak out is in line with chapter four of the 1999 constitution, the universal declarations of Human Rights and the International democratic laws and conventions adopted and domesticated by the Nigerian state of which Imo is only but a part”.
HURIWA cited Articles 19; 20 and 21 of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS domesticated as chapter four of 1999 Constitution(as amended) as supporting free and peaceful protest in Nigeria thus: “Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers; Article 20 (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association; Article 21(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives; (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country; (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”.
HURIWA said the extreme dictatorship and lack of good governance in Imo state has reached an epidemic levels demanding declaration of a state of emergency and the immediate impeachment of governor Okorocha and his arrest and prosecution for the bastardization and corruption of political governance which goes contrary to all civilised norms and our constitutional tenets.