In respect to the recent plan by the United State government to ban any Nigerian involve in electoral violence from obtaining Visa, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has called on US to extend the Visa restriction to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai and the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The Group also named the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Uche Secondus, former Minority Leader, Godswill Akapbio as part of those who should be banned by the US.
The human right group commended the US government for placing a ban on Nigerian politicians for undermining democracy in the 2019 general elections.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the Media Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group said the decision represents a watershed in what is seen as a bold move by the world leader to save democracy from collapsing in Nigeria “under the tyranny of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
HURIWA stated that any visa restriction that does not include El-rufai, Akpabio, who was allegedly involved in electoral violence remains incomplete.
The Rights group stated that El-rufai and Akpabio after making their “grave threats against constitutional democracy were backed by the President.”
HIRIWA said it may be a “phenomenal decision if the United States of America consider imposing traveling ban on the current President Muhammadu Buhari for his government’s decision ordering shoot-at-sight to armed security forces targeting alleged snatchers of ballot boxes.”
HURIWA said that “those threats may have precipitated the massive violence and a large number of casualties that resulted from the election of 2019 which controversially returned the then incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner.”
The group stated that PDP is culpable after threatening war if President Buhari should rig the presidential election.
HURIWA listed other politicians who actively made open threats of violence before the polls to include the “Amaechi who staged a so called traditional war dance in PortHarcourt Rivers State and the national chairman of All Progressives Congress Adams Oshiomhole and that of People’s Democratic Party Mr. Uche Secondus.”
The Rights group urged the US government to also include the “military commanders of the Nigerian Army in the oil rich Rivers state reportedly accused of causing considerable chaos and violence in Rivers state,” adding that the “commanders allegedly gave unlawful orders that resulted in fatalities.”
“On February 6th 2019, governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State threatened that foreign nationals who interfere in the forthcoming general elections would be given a “body bags treatment.”
“A body bag is one used for carrying a corpse from a battlefield or the scene of an accident or crime to either a mortuary or place of burial.”
The Rights group stated that the governor’s threat came barely a week after the Federal Government accused foreign powers, including the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (E.U.) of actions that could be deemed as interference, and warned of consequences.
HURIWA reminded the American government to remember that whilst making the threats of violence against foreign election observers, the Kaduna state governor had argued that it was a basic principle of international law that no country should interfere in the internal affairs of another country.
HURIWA quoted El-Rufai as stating thus: “You can comment, but when you make statements on the internal affairs of a country without facts, that is interference and is very irresponsible. Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for those that will come and intervene, they will go back in body bags.”
HURIWA stated that El-Rufai arrogantly described Nigeria as an independent entity whose sovereignty would never be compromised in servitude to foreign powers and continued his pro-violence rhetoric thus: “We are trying to run our country as decently as possible. Foreign countries have also had their own share of the challenges before attaining their current development strides.”
On Secondus, the Rights group said on January 31st 2019, Secondus, had threatened that there will be war in the country if the 2019 presidential election is rigged.
Speaking in Asaba, capital of Delta State, on at the party’s presidential campaign rally Secondus had accused the Nigerian government of putting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under pressure to rig the election.
HURIWA quoted Secondus as threatening thus: “Today, by your mandate, we warn INEC and we believe there are good people in INEC… we know that government is pressuring INEC to rig this election, but if they rig this election, they’re looking for war.”
The Rights group recalled vividly that in pidgin, PDP chairman asked the people if this was true, to which they replied in the affirmative.
Continuing, he had said: “If they need peace, they must not rig the election — because everybody is ready for this election.”
HURIWA quoted Uche Secondus as also threatening violence as follows: “We want to also advise our security agencies — and we know there are good people there protecting lives and properties, which is their primary duty. We believe that they will obey the Constitution, not to break it like Mr. President is breaking our laws. They will obey the Constitution and be neutral, but if they don’t, if they join hands with INEC to rig this election, what are they looking for?”
“War,” the people chanted back.
Secondus then added: “Therefore, we advise all Nigerians, on that day on the 16th of February, let them come all out to vote and stand by their ballot boxes, and defend their votes — because the votes of all Nigerians must count. So that we can vote out a man who cannot interact, so that we can vote out a man that has brought disgrace to our nation.
“On January 22nd 2019, information minister then hinted wrongly that it was in possession of intelligence information indicating that plans have been hatched by opposition elements to truncate the general elections by instigating violence across the country.
“On his part, the then Senator, Akpabio who cross carpeted to APC from PDP threatened before the election that his party will invade Akwa Ibom state similar to how Hitler invaded Poland in 1945.”
Stating that the USA Visa ban will significantly help the advancement of Democracy, HURIWA stressed that “President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered violent crackdown on members of the protesting Shiites Islamic Movement of Nigeria demanding the release of their leader.”