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A group of human rights advocates under the aegis of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre on Friday knocked the Federal Government for flouting the Court of Appeal ruling regarding the continuous detention of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Clement Nwankwo, expressed his reservation at a press conference held in Abuja to commemorate the global Human Rights Day.
A Federal Court of Appeal in Abuja had ruled that the FG breached all local and international laws in its forceful rendition of Kanu to Nigeria, an action that nullified the charges of terrorism charges against him.
Despite the judgment given for Kanu’s release, the administration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has refused his release.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had said that the IPOB leader was only acquitted and not released, insisting that the FG would pursue other charges against Kanu.
Bemoaning what he termed an obvious abuse of human rights, Nwankwo, expressed concerns that Nigeria was gradually drifting away from its responsibilities as enshrined in the country’s constitution and various international human rights treaty obligations.
According to him, not only has the country failed to protect its citizens from the erosion of their basic and fundamental rights, the government was often found complicit in actions that deny rather than enhance those rights.
He said, “For instance, an October 13 ruling by the Court of Appeal specifically reprimanded the government for its role in abducting a wanted citizen from a foreign country without due process in order to bring him for trial.
“Such an illegal action by the government in the terrorism and treasonable felony trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, nullified the government’s case, making it ‘untriable’ in Nigeria, the court said in its landmark ruling.
“But the government has persisted in its ways by disregarding the court ruling and seeking an appeal at the same time. Both the federal and state governments have also demonstrated a lack of tolerance for criticism.
“They have often chosen to clamp down on critics by deploying regulatory powers, citing bogus laws and using security forces. Examples include the ban of Twitter and the numerous occasions where government officials, including the president’s wife, unlawfully arrest and detain critics and journalists.”
The human rights advocate recommended a change in attitude where the government sees itself as the prime defender of human rights rather than their prime violator.
A worried Nwankwo also stated that there was an urgent need to tackle the grazing conflict sweeping the country as it’s directly implicated in food shortages and their rising costs.
“The government should redouble efforts to tackle pervasive insecurity in the country and reassert its control over the country’s territory, the report said.
“PLAC called on the authorities to launch investigations into allegations that some members of the security forces are showing partisanship to some sides in the grazing conflict, to nip such practices in the bud, if true, and boost the citizens’ trust in the armed forces,” he said.