The foremost Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has lamented that soldiers posted to major roads of Owerri, Aba in Abia State and other parts of the South East of Nigeria have escalated the harassment, intimidation,physical humiliation and are inconveniencing road users thereby making enjoyment of the Constitutionally protected and guaranteed fundamental freedoms of the citizens impossible. The Rights group blames the Imo State governor Mr. Hope Uzodinma for militarizing Imo State and for allowing the soldiers to continue to unleash gross human rights violations.
The Rights group said the Army operatives are openly displaying these tendencies of abuses of the Constitutionally protected and guaranteed fundamental freedoms of the citizens just as the Rights group said the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko is leading a delegation from Abuja to monitor first-hand the experiences of residents of South East of Nigeria in the hands of the Army.
The Rights group said the Army has constituted itself into an occupying force in the South East of Nigeria just as the Rights group said the Army operatives occupying the Owerri to Orlu Highway have converted their checkpoint into CASH COLLECTING POINT just as they have started subjecting commercial bus drivers to the ordeals of extortion and maltreatment which constitute gross violations of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
HURIWA specifically condemned the gross human rights violations being committed by armed security forces against civilians of the South East of Nigeria because in its words, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in section 41(1) provides thus: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society-
(a) imposing restrictions on the residence or movement of any person who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria; or
(b) providing for the removal of any person from Nigeria to any other country to:-
(i) be tried outside Nigeria for any criminal offence, or (ii) undergo imprisonment outside Nigeria in execution of the sentence of a court of law in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty:
Provided that there is reciprocal agreement between Nigeria and such other country in relation to such matter.”
HURIWA also stated that given that the official presentation it made to the office of the Chief of Army Staff has yet to be responded to and the protest against gross human rights violations committed by Soldiers that we complained about have continued unabated, we have put our legal department on notice to draft the petition against the Nigerian Army on the abuses of the human rights of Citizens in the South East including cases of extrajudicial killings will be compiled and sent to the International Criminal court in The Hague NETHERLANDS within the week.