HURIWA To Malami: Human Rights Aren’t Cow Rights

Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said it was a fallacy and an irredeemable illogicality for Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami to compare the ban on open grazing of cows in the South to ban in the sell of vehicular spare parts in the North. “These two items are incomparable because whilst one is sold in an organised shopping mall by traders who pay rents and taxes to state government, cows that are openly grazed violently invade farm lands and have often caused destructions to farms”.

Also, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described as unconstitutional and primitive, the reported directive to the Police by the acting Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba to engage in extralegal killing of suspected members of the indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

The group said the directive by the acting IGP directly offends sections 33 (1) which states thus: ‘Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.’ and 36 (5) which provides that: ‘Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty, Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.’

HURIWA said the implication of the illegal order of the Acting IGP is that the police chief lacks respect for the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) even as the group said it is aware that already a coalition of well over 200 civil Rights bodies are compiling evidence to drag the acting IGP to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands to face prosecution for crimes against humanity being perpetrated in the South East by his operative on his orders.

HURIWA which faulted the AGF for criticising Southern governors for banning open grazing stated that: “We are not in any way shocked that the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, a Fulani born lawyer and politician, has attacked Southern governors for taking practical steps to checkmate the rampant invasions of farms in the South by armed Fulani herdsmen. It does appear that a federal Attorney General does not understand the laws in such a way that he is mixing up animal rights and human rights. The minister of justice of President Muhammadu Buhari is unaware that the fundamental human rights provisions enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution are not animal rights which is why they are classified as HUMAN and not ANIMAL RIGHTS.

“That the justice minister of Nigeria now speaks for armed Fulani herdsmen is an unmitigated scandal but nevertheless not very strange to us because of our personal experience in a written exchanges with the Federal Attorney General and MinisterofJustice Abubakar Malami recently.”

“This is because, the same minister had written to us a response saying his office has not prosecuted any alleged armed Fulani herdsmen responsible for the many massacres around Nigeria since 2015 because according to Malami, government has no case file on this herdsmen killing farmers.”

HURIWA recalled vividly that Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, says the resolve to ban open grazing by southern governors is equivalent to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.

The Rights group recalled  that last Tuesday, southern governors resolved to ban open grazing and the movement of cattle by foot, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state just as the resolutions of the southern governors have been greeted with mixed reactions from different parts of the country.

Speaking on the development on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television, Malami faulted the decision of the southern governors, saying it does not align with the provisions of the constitution.

The attorney-general said the decision “does not hold water” in the context of human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?” he queried.

“For example: it is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north.

“Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the north?”

Reacting to the justice minister’s outburst HURIWA said it was not surprised because the minister had categorically expressed lack of interest in prosecting armed Fulani herdsmen.

Malami stated this in a document with reference number: MJ/LIT/ABJ/HRWAN/440/2020, dated October 7, 2020 that he wouldn’t prosecute armed Fulani herdsmen because there is no case file.

The AGF document, which was signed by the Acting Director, Civil Litigation and Public Law Department, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru on behalf of the minister, was in response to a letter written by an Abuja-based civil rights organisation, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.

HURIWA had in a letter signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, asked the minister to prosecute “armed Fulani killers.”

However, the minister in his reply claimed the cases in question had no case files and as such he could not prosecute them.

In his reply to a request by the civil rights group’s demand for the prosecution of the suspects, the minister instructed an acting director in the ministry to write, “I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 13, 2020, on the above subject matter and to inform you that your letter has been noted.

“I am further directed to inform your office that the alleged crimes cannot be prosecuted without case files. Please, accept the assurances of the best regards of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”

After receiving the AGF’s reply, HURIWA wrote a letter to the Ambassador of the United States of America, Mary Beth Leonard.

The letter titled, ‘Take note that (the) Nigerian Government is unwilling to prosecute mass killers,” was received by the American Embassy in Abuja, on October 14, 2020.

The letter partly reads, “Our appeal is that you use your good offices to demand that the Nigerian President take action to prosecute these mass killers who are roaming about freely even after they were paraded by the Inspector-General of Police.”

HURIWA said the justice deliberately feigned ignorance of the Land Use Act which gives the governors control over the lands in their states which implies that legally, governors  have the constitutional powers to ban open grazing. The Rights group said the best way to obtain justice for farmers and families murdered by armed Fulani herdsmen is for the justice minister to resign immediately and find full time job as the lawyer to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.

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