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ANAMBRA STAMPEDE: STOP POLITICIZING THE MISFORTUNE; HURIWA WARNS POLITICIANS

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

A democracy focused Non-Governmental organization–HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has decried what it calls the senseless and insensitive dancing on the graves of the departed worshipers who perished in the stampede on Saturday at the vigil of the Holy Ghost adoration ministry in Uke, Anambra state by Anambra politicians of diverse platforms.

Besides, the Rights group has called for the immediate setting up of an independent judicial commission of inquiry by the Anambra state government to unravel the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident, name and prosecute the indicted culprits devoid of political witch hunting and to pay proper financial compensation to surviving relatives of all the 28 worshippers that reportedly died.

HURIWA also condemned the poor emergency rescue mechanism in place in Anambra state and advocated the creation of a vibrant and well funded state emergency management agency patterned after the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria. The group said since the welfare and security of the citizenry was the prime constitutional obligation of government, it is inconceivable that such a monumental spiritual event at the weekend in Anambra state was not attended by sufficiently equipped state run emergency management and rescue agency.

In a statement made available to journalists and jointly endorsed by the national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the national media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also tasked the Anambra state government to openly name the suspected police operatives responsible for the extra-legal killing of the scores of corpses found few months ago in the Ezu River near the Anambra state border with Enugu state.

HURIWA said the failure of the Anambra and federal governments to conclusively investigate, name and prosecute the indicted police operatives who allegedly killed and dumped nearly three dozen Anambra citizens suspected to be members of the movement of the sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) is one of the greatest disservice to humanity and an attempt to protect mass murderers in police uniform and by so doing institutionalize impunity and lawlessness. HURIWA said this spectacular cover up of the indicted police operatives that executed one of the most gruesome extra-legal killings was reprehensible and regrettable.

On the deadly stampede at the weekend which resulted in the death of 28 worshipers, the Rights group said posterity and history will be very harsh on Governor Peter Obi and Anambra opposition politicians should they continue to play dirty partisan politics with this unfortunate loss of precious lives of citizens and fail to objectively probe and determine to its finality, the causes of that sad incident and proceed to prosecute all indicted culprits who precipitated the deadly stampede.

Reminding Anambra state government of its constitutional obligation to protect lives and property of its citizenry, HURIWA also called on state governments in the country to compel religious bodies to only conduct their services in venues that are safe and conducive to avoid the repeat of the Uke Anambra deadly stampede.

HURIWA also said: “The Anambra State governor must identify those that died and work out effective, transparent and accountable strategies for payment of meaningful financial compensation to families of the dead because government failed in its constitutional duty to protect their lives from the unwarranted stampede.”