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Huriwa Faults Military On Rivers Neighborhood Watch

By HURIWA

A prominent Non Governmental organisation- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari's administration of double standards in the handling of the establishment of a neighbourhood security watch in Rivers State by the Rivers State government under the opposition People Democratic party (PDP). The group said the current government has diametrically opposed guidelines on how to treat security issues in the North from that of Southern Nigeria which clearly shows an administration that nurses deep seated suspicions of the Southern people and has unflinching trust of Northern politicians and most especially those of the All Progressives Congress who are Hausa/Fulani moslems. HURIWA said the double standards amounted to discrimination which the Nigerian Constitution totally outlaws.

HURIWA said the directive by the Army's high command to the Rivers State government to discontinue the setting up of a statewide security watch to be made up of trained citizens was unconstitutional, illegal and biased given that several states in the North already run armed civilian vigilantes including the APC governments in Kano, Borno and Zamfara states that run armed Islamic police which has never attracted any adversarial directives from central government led by the All Progressives Congress President Muhammadu Buhari even when section 10 bans state religion or indeed any governmemt policy that projects a section of Nigeria as recognising one religion as official religion.

HURIWA wondered why the military authority and the APC-led Federal Government are growing goose pimples over the legally authorised policy of the Rivers state government to set up a civilian vigilante that would compliment other security forces which nevertheless have no absolute capacity of preventing the breakdown of law and order and the unleashing of Violence. HURIWA said the Nigerian constitution permits state houses of Assembly to make laws for the good governance of their respective states just as it emphasised that security of lives and property is the primary duty of government.

HURIWA said: " We are aware like most Nigerians that the Zamfara governor, Yari, has just given the Islamic Hisbah commission power to arrest, interrogate

suspects with the reported signing of a bill conferring more powers to the state Hizbah commission to arrest, interrogate and search residences or items where they suspect anti-Sharia activities or substances banned by Sharia are being kept.

HURIWA recalled that Yari, who signed the bill recently at the Government House Chamber, Gusau, Zamfara State, shortly after addressing thousands of the citizens who converged at the state trade fair, Gusau, to celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, said: ‘’In our determination to strengthen Sharia implementation across the state, I would like to use this opportunity to announce that immediately after this address, I will sign a bill that will give Hisbah Commission the power to arrest, interrogate and search residences or items where they suspect anti-Sharia activities or substances banned by Sharia are being kept.”

HURIWA then condemned as outrageous biasness and the crudest display of double standard policy by the central government which has tolerated the Zamfara Islamic police but is worried that the Rivers State House of Assembly passed into law an executive bill for the establishment of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch, a special vigilante group that will assist the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to fight crime and criminality in the state.

HURIWA recalled that all sides were carried along in the steps leading up to the formation of the Rivers State's neighborhood watch because during the debate on the bill tagged: “Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Corps Bills of 2018”, the legislators engaged in a heated debate on one of the obvious controversial issues of the bill, which was whether or not personnel of the corps should be authorized to bear arms. Lawmakers representing Port Harcourt Constituency 1, Victoria Nyeche and Khana Constituency 2, Friday Nkee, both of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) argued that members of the corps should not be allowed to bear arms. But the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Martins Amaewhule and the member representing Khana Constituency 1, Bariene Deeyah, both of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) disputed the points raised by the other lawmakers.

HURIWA backed the Rivers state government and urged the military authority to actively partner with the state administration so as to secure lives and property of the good people of Rivers state just as the Rights group asked the Federal government to observe equity, equality of rights and non discrimination as the policy frameworks of the central government so the unity and oneness of Nigeria would be advanced in practice.