intolerance of political pluralism, press freedom and freedom of
expression and has tasked Nigerians to resist a return to full blown
dictatorship through every conceivable legal mechanism.
HURIWA said Nigeria and Nigerians will be worst off should President
Muhammadu Buhari be tolerated to institute incipient tyranny which is what
he has since started introducing with his initial serial flouting of court
orders; attacks targeting judges including the illegal deposition of the
head of the judicial arm of government and his government’s persistent
witch hunt targeting political opposition using all security forces and
especially the highly compromised Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
The Rights group has also accused a section of the judiciary of criminal
collusion with the totalitarian presidency to undermine the enjoyments of
the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms as manifested in the
recent unlawful jailing of a human rights activist Mr. I.G. Awala over a
spurious charge of belonging to a so called unregistered association.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) also blasted
President Muhammadu Buhari for illegal use of security agencies and the
Ministry of Federal capital Territory to go after Nigeria’s best known
media mogul and Africa’s largest television- African Independent
Television Chief Raymond Dokpesi over his perceived political affiliations
regarded as diverging from that of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
HURIWA condemned the demolition of sections of the imposing complex
housing the most reputable privately administered television in Nigeria
based in Abuja-AIT by officials of the FCT and the recent illegal
detention at the international Airport by Nigeria Immigration services
(NIS) OF Chief Dokpesi who had just returned from overseas medical care.
HURIWA said that the arrest, continuous harassment of Chief Dokpesi was
well -coordinated plots to intimidate, cow and compel him and to undermine
the independence of the only surviving independent television in Nigeria
because of the predisposition of the African Independent Television to
allow all shades of opinions in their broadcast station.
Endorsed jointly by the National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and
National media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yususf, HURIWA has also
resolved to petition the offices of the United States president; prime
minister of Britain and the European Union to call president Buhari to
order so his regime stops threatening press freedom.
In a statement titled “RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND THE PRESS ARE
NOT ONLY LEGAL BUT ALSO FUNDAMENTAL AND NOT CRIMINAL”, HURIWA affirmed
thus: “Nigeria is a secular state which not only does not function at the
whims and caprices of some religious, political, cultural elite or
oligarchy or group or institution but by the law which clearly spells out
the rights and obligations of her citizen and all other within its
geographical location. In this regard, the first, primary and most
essential law of resort is her Constitution which is the ground-norm. The
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not only give life to
all other laws but kills any law, belief, opinion etc which purports to
negate its provision. It is apt at this juncture to quote from section
1(1) and (3) of the Constitution. Section 1(1) provides thus:
“This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force
on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal republic of
In the same vein section 1(3) provides thus:
“If any law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this
Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the
inconsistency, be void.”
A discourse on the subject at hand is not only a legal issue but a
constitutional provision. The Constitution recognises freedom of
association. Section 40 enshrines this essential feature of the human
being in the following words:
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with
other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political
party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his
The only constitutionally recognisable derogation from the foregoing
section is the right of the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) to refuse to recognise political parties which are not registered
with them. One very important point must be made here then, an association
must not be registered to guarantee this right except it is for the
purposes of contesting an election.
On the other hand, section 39(1) provides for freedom of the press in the
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including
freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information
Similarly Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
states thus among others:
Every one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right
includes freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive
and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of
HURIWA absolutely agrees with the postulation that press freedom connotes
that there is no prior or subsequent restraint; freedom to gather
information; the right not to be compelled to disclose the source of
information; freedom of impart; the right to receive information and
Freedom from unreasonable punishment for what is published.
ALL NIGERIA PEOPLES PARTY & 11 OTHERS V. INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
(2006) CHR 181-199, the Court held that by the combined effect of Sections
39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Article 11 of the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the right to assemble freely cannot
be violated without violating the fundamental right to peaceful assembly
In the case ANIGBORO V. SEA TRUCKS LTD (1995) 6 NWLR (PT.399) 35, the
Court of Appeal held that it is not for the employer to choose a trade
union for his employees. That the summary dismissal of the workers who
remained adamant as to their choice of a trade union was violative of
their right to freedom of association.
In EGRI V. UPERI (1973) 1 SC 299, the Supreme Court speculated that it may
be contrary to the right to freedom of association for a court to compel a
wife to return to her husband.
It is obvious that the law does not only guarantees these rights but also
further that they be strictly protected because they are the core of the
societal liberty and the basis for the ultimately freedom of mankind and
the smooth functioning of society.
HURIWA recalled that Ibrahim Wala, popularly called I G Wala, was jailed
on Wednesday by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal
Capital Territory (FCT).
He was reportedly found guilty of falsely accusing the head of a pilgrim
commission of corruption and leading a protest against the official.
Justice Halilu found Mr Wala guilty on three of the four charges filed
against him by the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of
The three charges for which he was found guilty include unlawful assembly,
public incitement and criminal defamation of character.
The judge, however, dismissed the charge of criminal intimidation for lack
The activist was arraigned following a petition filed by the chairman of
the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mukhtar.
In the petition, Mr Mukhtar alleged that Mr Wala used his Facebook page to
incite the public against him and defame his integrity and that of the
commission he heads.
On the charge of unlawful assembly, Mr Wala was found guilty of using his
organisation, the Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), to form
an unlawful assembly. The judge ruled that the organisation was
The judge said the prosecution “has been able to establish the offence of
making an unlawful assembly.”
HURIWA said the jailing of the activist is unconstitutional and must never
be allowed to stand. HURIWA asked the Court of Appeal to annul this
unbridled resort to tyranny by the government as represented by the
anarchic verdict that is capable of destroying fundamental rights.