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HURIWA TO GOVERNMENT: DEAL WITH ARMED FULANI HERDSMEN, NOT DINING WITH THEM:

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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A pro-democracy Non-governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has blasted the Federal government for choosing to dialogue with armed Fulani attackers rather than confront and disarm them decisively.

In a media statement against the backdrop of the Constitution on Monday by the Minister of Interior retired Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Danbazau of a so-called technical committee to resolve the unprecedented rate of armed Fulani versus farmers clashes, the Rights group dismissed the move as unconstitutional and a gross derogation from all civilized norms and provisions of the law meant to punish mass murderers.

HURIWA has also expressed apprehension that the move by the interior minister was a well-choreographed mechanism to shield the armed Fulani attackers from prosecution for mass murders in line with all relevant laws.

The Rights group has therefore asked government officials to stop dancing naked on the grave of the innocent victims of the armed Fulani attacks.

The Right group through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of media Affairs Miss Zainab Yusuf reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his government’s binding international obligations to bring effective justice to such perpetrators of mass violence such as the armed Fulani herdsmen who have slaughtered over 6000 villagers in the last one year alone.

"How does a civilized government intend to dialogue with murderers who have destroyed such farming communities as Agatu in Benue State, Godogodo in Southern Kaduna State and have raided communities in Kogi, Enugu, Abia, Delta and much of middle belt states of Plateau and Tarawa States?" HURIWA asked.

HURIWA said thus: “In the hierarchy of fundamental rights, the right to life is not only most fundamental but also the basis for which others exist. Shelter, food and clothing exist at the pleasure of life and not otherwise. It is not sheer coincidence therefore that of the Fundamental Rights entrenched in Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution; the Right to Life is first and foremost as provided under section 33.”

“The recognition of the right to life is a global trend and not just a national phenomenon in Nigeria. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly via Resolution 217, A (III) of December 10, 1948 has in its Column 1 covering Articles 3-11 the Right to Life accorded its priority. Article 3 is very emphatic:

Everyone has the right to life liberty and security of person.”

“Similarly, of the three rights which are non-derogable under Article 4(2) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 2200 A (XXI) of December 16, 1966, the Right to life is first as provided in Article 6 and the other two provided in Articles 7 and 8 being freedom from torture and slavery respectively are only to ensure the enjoyment of the right to life. Article 6 expressly provides: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of right to his life.”

The Right group has therefore asked the Federal government to liaise with the State Attorneys'-General of affected states to publish a template for the rapid prosecution of all the 800 already identified suspected armed Fulani herdsmen who were confirmed by Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo to be in different detention centers across the country.

“This time wasting and money guzzling committee set up by the Minister of Interior is totally unlawful and amounts to an attempt to usurp the legal functions of such law enforcement authorities like the police and the various offices of States Attorneys General whereby such killings have occurred".

“The Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 in Article 50 clearly provided that the Nigeria Police Force is obliged to prevent crime and to enforce relevant laws such as the laws that absolutely prohibits unlawful killings”, HURIWA averred.

HURIWA recalled that the Federal Government inaugurated a 16-member technical committee on the recurring clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the country.

The committee is expected to arrange an all-inclusive gathering of stakeholders to address the lingering conflicts involving the two groups so says the Interior minister.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, while inaugurating the committee in his office Monday, said it was intended to “suggest ways of addressing this conflict that is becoming a clog to our efforts to achieve harmonious relationship amongst the citizenry and a barrier to economic development.”

But HURIWA dismissed this action as a primitive attempt to provide soft landing to outlaws who have in the guise of operating as Fulani herdsmen have unleashed blood cuddling violence of epic proportion leading to the death of thousands of Nigerians and the destruction of property and crops worth several billions of Naira.