[HURIWA] condemns the recent harassment and intimidation of Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho

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PRESS STATEMENT

 

HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) hereby condemns  the recent alleged harassment and intimidation of the immediate past interior minister Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho by Nigerian Maritime And Safety Agency (NIMASA) over alleged storage of “stolen crude oil” (AGO CARGO) in the tank farm associated with the former minister of interior. The manner of the arrest of the former minister to us is a total violation of the Fundamental Human Rights of a Nigerian citizen. We are aware of the widely circulated defence put up by the former minister whereby he cleared himself and company of involvement in the storage of the alleged stolen petroleum products.

 

The firm run by the former minister had claimed thus; “On Thursday the 13th September 2012, our management was surprised by the incidence of the vicious invasion of our Tank Farm facility at Ibafon by a group of uniformed armed men, numbering about thirty and purporting themselves to be acting on the orders and instructions of the D.G. NIMASA and of Mr. Tompolo, MD, of a private company GVWSL.”

 

The immediate past minister had also contrary to the allegation that his company was in breach of the law in storing the said petroleum products claimed thus; “In the course of the invasion, the intruders ransacked the entire tank farm complex, arresting and violently manhandling the workers at the complex, laying them flat on the floor, seizing their handsets. At the end of the day, five members of the staff of the company were allegedly abducted and taken to NIMASA for interrogation and have since been transferred to the SSS at Shangisha where they were held incommunicado.”

 

The former minister had also claimed that the assault on the company’s business has since continued with a renewed invasion of the company’s Corporate Headquarters occurring at other Marine Road offices on Friday, September 14th, 2012.

 

As a human rights organization, we recognize the sanctity of fundamental human rights as enshrined in section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria of 1999 as amended. A Citizen alleged to be in breach of the law is innocent in the eye of the law until proven guilty by a competent court of law and must not be subjected to undue harassment through the instrumentality of Government controlled power of coercion.

 

We are also against the media trial that was carried out against the former minister who we believe served this country creditably. If Government believes that his firm has indeed breached any extant law, Government is obliged to follow the due process of the law and not to use crude means that is akin to abduction of a citizen.

 

HURIWA is of the conviction that Nigeria must not return to the dark days of military brute force or crude application of the law. The past interior minister had alleged that he was allegedly abducted by armed men suspected to be working with a privately-run security outfit linked to a former militant leader. This allegation is serious and must be investigated by President Jonathan.

 

These serious allegations must be probed more so when report shows that the said petroleum products were validly cleared by all relevant authorities including the necessary inwards clearance documentation, issued by The Nigerian Navy, the Department of Petroleum Resources DPR, the Nigerian Port Authority and surprisingly, NIMASA.

 

HURIWA is aware that the former minister had clearly stated in the media that the controversial AGO cargo was borne to their tank farm on a vessel the MT Grace, owned by Messrs Akoto Ventures/Danyomile Marine Services Ltd.

 

In the defense put up by the company of the former minister stated thus; “The controversial Ago cargo which the NIMASA and Messrs GWVS claim to have been stolen, transported and is stored in our tanks, was lifted to our tank farm on the MT Grace, passed through NPA channels and facilities en-route to our jetty, was cleared for discharge at our jetty by both the DPR and the Nigerian Navy. The cargo is not owned by Integrated Oil and Gas as we were never the official receivers of the cargo. The cargo was officially consigned to Messrs PDR/Capital Oil Plc”.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA hereby appeals to President Goodluck Jonathan to set up an investigative panel to probe the allegation made by the former minister of interior that someone high up there is after his legitimate business. The President should speak out and clear his administration of alleged collusion to destroy the businesses of certain persons including but not limited to the immediate past minister of interior.

 

As a democracy, when any citizen is accused of breaching any law, he/she must be appropriately made to face the full weight of the law but not subjected to psychological or physical torture.

 

We believe that; “Human rights are the most fundamental rights of human beings. They define relationships between individuals and power structures, especially the State. Human rights delimit State power and, at the same time, require States to take positive measures ensuring an environment that enables all people to enjoy their human rights”. History in the last 250years has been shaped by the struggle to create such an environment. Starting with the French and American revolutions in the late eighteenth century, the idea of human rights has driven many a revolutionary movement for empowerment and for control over the wielders of power, Governments in particular.”

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko,

 

National Coordinator/Executive Director on behalf of the coalition of human rights and civil society community.

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