The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Platform;- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) says president Muhammadu Buhari needs to urgently call his aides and officials to order to avoid causing social upheavals over the re-arrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who as far as right thinking members of the global community are concerned is a prisoner of conscience.
HURIWA which expressed optimism that the Court can renew the bail granted to Nnamdi Kanu since bail is at the discretion of the presiding judge and constitionally, accused persons are deemed innocent in the eyes of the law, the RIGHTS GROUP warned the security forces not to put the life of Nnamdi Kanu in danger in the same way that the then political prisoner MKO Abiola was poisoned to death by the military. HURIWA said Nnamdi Kanu’s legal representatives must never be harassed or violently attacked as have happened consistently since the matter was instituted.
The Rights group also called on the British Government to send monitors to attend the court sessions to ensure that the Constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights of Nnamdi Kanu are protected.
Besides, the Civil Rights Group said for the sake of safeguarding National Security, peace and harmonious co-existence of the diverse ethno- religious nationalities of Nigeria, the Federal High Court should impose a gag order banning government officials and politicians from dabbling into the proceeding relating to the detention and prosecution of the IPOB Chieftain pending the determination of the matter by competent Courts of law. The gag order should be imposed to stop politicians from inflating passion and causing social unrest.
“We watched with considerable trepidation and disappointment the primitive way that close aides of President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated the re- arrest and extradition of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and since his eventual re arraignment before Honourable Justice Binta Murtallah- Nyako of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, top members of the All Progressives Congress including Laurentia Onochie who is a special social media Assistant to President Buhari and one Mr. Joe Igbokwe amongst others have posted several derogatory and prejudicial comments on the social media and mainstream media to demonize the accused person Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in their attempts to put pressure and compel the judge of the Federal High Court hearing the matter Mrs Zainab Murtallah-Nyako to reach their politically motivated and predetermined outcome”.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA condemned the failure of the Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice Abubakar Malami to provide to Nigerians in line with the freedom of information Act, the fuller details of the arrest and extradition of Nnamdi Kanu.
“This secrecy and the fact that Malami picked and chose what to tell Nigerians on how Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was picked up and extradited, the Federal Government has ignited a gale and unprecedented wave of fake news around the circumstances surrounding the arrest and extradition of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The Court should take the example of how some sensitive legal proceedings in Great Britain are conducted, by making injunctive order gagging government officials and politicians from discussing the Court proceeding on the Nnamdi Kanu matters. Making a Gag order in this instance is not a breach of the constitutional freedoms of expression but is a subtle way of checking activities of war mongers who are planning to use the re-arrest of Nnamdi Kanu to incite violence and social upheavals around the fault lines of Nigerians.”
“We warn that President Buhari should not ignite social crises by allowing his supporters and officials to continuously make senseless and irresponsible comments that are hate filled so as not to create security crises for the South East of Nigeria because as a fact, Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) enjoy unprecedented followership globally”.
HURIWA went deeper into the legal archives of the Supreme Court of USA on Gag orders by affirming that: “Due process would be afforded by a court to interested parties before it adopted standing guidelines and special orders. Before adopting standing guidelines, it would be required to solicit the written and oral opinions of news media, bar organizations, law enforcement agencies, public defenders and prosecutors. The guidelines also would be subject to periodic review and change. Before issuing a special order, a court would have to determine whether sufficient danger of prejudicial publicity existed; then it would draft a proposed order, give notice to the parties affected and provide them with a hearing. A final special order would be detailed and specific and would list reasons for its issuance. In “extraordinary circumstances” a court could enter a temporary special order which would be enforceable before the requirements of a hearing had been met. The court would explain the necessity for the temporary special order and would provide a prompt hearing to consider continuing, modifying or terminating the order. All those aggrieved by the order would be able to appeal in the most prompt manner provided in the jurisdiction for contesting other court orders, such as injunctions Y The structure of the ABA proposal shows promise of improving the present system of judicial restraints in three major respects. First, the use of due process standards may prevent the issuance of unnecessary gag orders.’ 0 Accelerating numbers of restrictive orders have been issued to lawyers and reporters in the last decade.’1 Since the Supreme Court decided in 1966 that the duty of insulating a trial from excessive publicity rested with the trial”.
“Gag orders — issued by a court, government, or private entity — require an individual to refrain from making public comments. Typically, judges issue injunctions barring trial participants — including attorneys, litigants, and witnesses — from discussing trial related material outside the courtroom. In general, courts have held that gagging people involved in trials is more acceptable than similar orders issued against the press.”
HURIWA cited the following legal authority to support her call for a gag order thus: “Gag orders on trial participants are often used to ensure fair trials. However, gag orders on the press must meet high standards set by the courts to avoid prior restraint.”
“In Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada (1991), the Supreme Court held that attorneys who make out-of-court statements are not entitled to the same level of protection as the media. Gag orders on the press represent a form of prior restraint and are seldom upheld.”
“The Supreme Court in Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966) ruled that defendants are entitled to impartial juries and that trial court judges should take strong measures to uphold the right to a fair trial. Judges interpreted Sheppard as an authorization to impose gag orders on trial participants, but some even began to place them on the media. The Court dispelled this latter notion, setting a high bar for such orders in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart (1976). This case arose from the 1975 trial of Erwin Simants, who was charged with murdering six people. The county judge issued a gag order barring the media from reporting on Simants’s confession, statements he made to others, contents of notes he had written on the evening of the murders, as well as other potentially damaging information.”