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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 23, 2024

HURIWA condemns Police abduction of journalist, criticizes President Tinubu's inaction

HURIWA condemns Police abduction of journalist, criticizes P

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has condemned the Nigerian Police Force for the recent abduction of Madu Onuorah, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Global Upfront Newspaper.

This incident allegedly occurred on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at around 6 pm, when approximately ten fully armed police officers reportedly stormed Onuorah’s residence in Lugbe, Abuja.

HURIWA recalled media reports that the police arrived in two Sienna buses and arrested Onuorah in the presence of his wife and children without presenting an arrest warrant or providing any reason for the arrest. 

“The police officers allegedly confiscated Mr. Onuorah’s phones, preventing him from communicating with his family or legal counsel, and subsequently took him to the Lugbe Police Station. The officers, who were reportedly not from the Lugbe station, left no information for his family to follow, effectively cutting off any means to trace his whereabouts.”

In a press statement, HURIWA expressed deep concern over this blatant violation of human rights and freedom of the press. The association called for the immediate and unconditional release of  Onuorah, condemning the police's actions as reminiscent of a Gestapo-like regime, rather than a democratic society. “This alleged incident is part of a disturbing pattern of police brutality and suppression of free speech that has been on the rise in Nigeria.”

Moreover, HURIWA criticized President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his failure to address these serious issues and uphold the rule of law, stressing that the administration’s silence on such matters raises serious questions about its commitment to democratic principles and human rights.

The association highlighted the President’s failure to appoint a governing board for the Police Service Commission, PSC, for over six months, which has left the commission without a quorum and a legally constituted board, rendering it ineffective.

“According to Section 29(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the PSC should consist of no less than seven and no more than nine members. However, the current composition falls short, with many positions vacant or occupied by individuals whose terms have expired. 

"The PSC’s Establishment Act stipulates that the commission should include a Chairman, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, a retired Police Officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police, and representatives from various interest groups. Currently, the only valid board members are the recently appointed Chairman, Dr. Solomon E. Arase, and Hon. Chief Onyemuche Nnamani, representing the South East. This lack of proper oversight emboldens the police to act with impunity,” HURIWA noted.

HURIWA is particularly alarmed by the continuous appointment of former Inspectors General of Police, IGP, as Chairmen of the PSC, expressing that the practice undermines the independence of the commission and fosters a culture of impunity within the police force. 

In addition, HURIWA called for an end to the practice of police kidnapping journalists on nebulous charges under the cybercrime laws, which are often misused to stifle dissent and free speech. The association urged the government to amend these laws to reflect democratic ideals and protect the fundamental rights of all Nigerians.

The association also demanded urgent steps to restore the functionality of the Police Service Commission, including appointing a full complement of qualified and independent members to ensure the commission can carry out its mandate effectively, stressing that robust oversight and accountability are essential to reforming the Nigerian Police Force so that it serves and protects the people, rather than intimidating and oppressing them.

 The association called on the Nigerian government to uphold the rule of law and respect the rights and freedoms of its citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution. “The immediate release of Mr. Onuorah and a thorough review of the PSC’s composition and cybercrime laws are essential steps toward restoring public confidence in Nigeria’s commitment to democracy and human rights,” HURIWA concluded.

 

 

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