A pro-democracy organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked international community to issue travel bans on President Muhammadu Buharu and his close officials over the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN Walter Onnoghen.
HURIWA in a statement urged EU and the UK to withhold travel ban against Buhari until he restores Justice Onnoghen to his position and show evidence of his willingness to stop “his serial undermining of the democratic authorities and independence of the legislature and the judiciary and halt the serial abuse of power by his government.”
The group also condemned the Presidency for rejecting counsels from the international community in regards to Onnoghen’s suspension
Buhari had in a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Saturday, warned against foreign interference into the nation’s affairs, capable of creating apprehension, distrust among citizens or undermining the transparency and acceptability of outcomes of the nation’s electoral process.
HURIWA dismissed the reaction of the Buhari’s administration to the statements from international community as empty arrogance of a dictator.
The statement read: “HURIWA has asked the global leaders like the United States of America; United Kingdom; Canada; France; Germany and Australia to immediatelly slam diplomatic sanctions including travel bans on President Muhammadu Buhari and his top officials until the Nigerian government demonstrates transparent willingness to allow for the free; fair, transparent and peaceful conduct by an independent electoral arbiter of the February 16th Presidential election and the subsequent sub- national amd national polls in March.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has dethroned the legally constituted head of the Nigerian judiciary and supplanted an acting Chief Justice whose wife is reportedly and allegedly a Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bauchi State which incidentally is the state of origin of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Mahmood Yakubu who appears too weak to assert the autonomy of the electoral commission and resist the mounting pressure from the incumbent to manipulate the electoral process to favour the All Progressives Congress.
“HURIWA condemns the Nigerian Presidency for the irrational, Illogical; unsound and unbriddled response it gave to the International community in the wake of the series of public diplomatic statements from the USA; UK and European union expressing grave concerns that the illegal removal of the substantive Chief justice of Nigeria Mr Justice Walter Onnoghen and his replacement by a Presidency’s handpicked replacemen Tanko Mohammed only few days to the polls would undermine the credibility of the forthcoming elections.
“HURIWA faults the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for asking that the international community not to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs just as HURIWA stated that the electoral commission which will conduct the elections- Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is receiving funding and technical assistance from those nations and since Nigeria is not an island given that it is a member of several international organisations such as the United Nations and the African Union amongst many others in which the Country subscribes to several global treaties and conventions to protect and promote democracy and defend human rights, the Nigerian Presidency must keep to those values or expect international scrutiny including severe sanctions targeting government officials should the government deliberately deviates from those international legally binding obligations.
“HURIWA urges the World leaders to maintain the tempo of international pressure so President Muhammadu Buhari does not undermine democracy, destabilise the Country and create spectacular refugee crisis for Africa because if the election is rigged the Country might witness cocktails of violence that may spiral out of control.
“HURIWA recalled that the presidency had reacted to the position of both the United States of America and the European Union on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen just as the Rights group recalled that a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, noted that as much as Nigeria welcomes prevailing interests and partnerships for successful 2019 general elections, the government would not condone unfair interference in matters that are wholly internal.
“HURIWA recalled that prior to the latest statements on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the U.S. and the UK had earlier on Thursday threatened to ban from entering their countries any Nigerian found guilty of instigating violence during the election or anyone engaging in rigging the process.”
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