Affairms Condemns Misuse Of Naval Operatives By Abuja Environmental Agency

The coming into effect of the total ban on minibuses into Abuja Municipal Area Council on Monday June 3rd 2013 has been described as punitive, harmful and dangerous to the enjoyment of freedom of movement of the poor people in the nation’s capital with no means of private transportation.

In a statement to the media, a development focused non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has called on the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed to either reverse the inhumane transportation policy or introduce immediate, workable evidence – based alternative to cushion effect of the hardship experienced in the last 48 hours by poor residents of Satelite communities in and around the Federal Capital. HURIWA said the number of alternative high capacity buses provided by the authority are way too small to ameliorate the excruciating transportation difficulties encountered by Abuja poor commuters.

The National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media; Miss Zainab Yusuf said complaints from ordinary poor Abuja commuters have flooded the office of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) even as it urged for immediate remedy to stop the unwarranted transportation difficulties experienced by thousands of Abuja poor people.

HURIWA stated thus; “In as much as we acknowledge that most of the now banned public minibus operators hardly comply with basic traffic rules and most times constitute hazards to the lives of Abuja residents including the poor commercial passengers, the Abuja administration was hasty in enforcing the ban of minibuses without effectively providing sufficient alternatives to these poor people thereby throwing them into unmitigated transportation difficulties which are clear breaches of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms as enshrined in chapter four of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended)”.

“We are by this public statement urging the minister of FCT to review the implementation of the new transport policy to meet with the demands of majority of poor inhabitants until such a time that basic infrastructure such as rail transportation system is effectively put in place and made affordable to commuters”.

Specifically, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, administration began the implementation of the new transport policy, which bars mini buses adorning white green-white colours, from operating in the city centre. HURIWA said reports have it that only 350 high capacity buses were provided as alternatives to minibuses to convey passengers from various interchange points to the city center.

The FCT Administration reportedly said the number of such buses will be increased to 600 by the end of this month in line with the policy, which it claimed is aimed at providing efficient transport operation in the territory, but commuters who flooded HURIWA’s office with complaints, say those alternatives are grossly insufficient.

HURIWA in a related development, has urged President Jonathan to stop the deployment of armed Naval operatives attached to Abuja Environmental task force which it says amounts to misuse of the Naval operatives who ought to be in the High Seas to stop the unprecedented rise in theft of crude oil by hoodlums.

“It is a disgrace of unprecedented dimension for armed Naval operatives trained with huge public fund to be reduced to local environmental law enforcement operatives and are seen chasing old women and children hawking wares in the streets of Abuja even as foreign tourists watch with shock and consternation”, HURIWA stated.