Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has appealed to the international community for immediate intervention following threats issued by the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) against its officers including the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and others.
A statement signed by Comrade Onwubiko released on Wednesday, said the alarming situation has raised significant concerns regarding the safety and security of human rights defenders in Nigeria.
HURIWA, in a Press Conference on Wednesday, said that the DHQ’s threat of legal action against the organisation came in response to its stance on the failures of military intelligence and the distressing violence targeting predominantly Christian communities in Plateau State.
The human rights advocacy group said it has been at the forefront of addressing these critical issues.
“The DHQ’s intimidation tactics, coupled with subtle physical intimidation and suspicious surveillance of HURIWA’s staff in Abuja, have instigated fear and apprehension among the organisation’s members. This dire situation underscores the urgent need for international intervention to avert potential threats to the lives and freedoms of human rights defenders in Nigeria,” a statement signed by the HURIWA boss stated.
It stated that HURIWA’s petition to the international community highlighted the blatant disregard for constitutional provisions safeguarding freedom of expression by Nigerian authorities, citing that despite constitutional guarantees of fundamental freedoms, the actions of the DHQ pose a severe threat to constitutional democracy and human rights in Nigeria.
“Particularly worrisome is the substantial arsenal at the disposal of the Nigerian Armed Forces, including sophisticated military jets recently provided by the United States. This arsenal raises concerns of potential violence and further intimidation against human rights defenders, exacerbating an already precarious situation.
“The merit of HURIWA’s appeal is evident, with numerous documented instances of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Nigerian military against civilians. These abuses underscore the urgency of the organisation’s plea for international intervention to safeguard the lives and freedoms of human rights defenders in Nigeria.
“Despite HURIWA’s longstanding advocacy for justice, accountability, and the protection of human rights over its 17-year history, these escalating threats from the Nigerian military have left the organization and its members in a vulnerable position, necessitating their turn to the international community for support”.
In response to these urgent developments, HURIWA said it has formally petitioned the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria, David Greene, to explore possible diplomatic avenues for intervention and support. Additionally, similar appeals have been extended to other diplomatic missions, including the embassies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Belgium, France, and Italy.
While the international community’s response to the appeal remains uncertain, the group noted that the safety and security of human rights defenders in Nigeria are in jeopardy, demanding urgent action to address the escalating threats from the Nigerian military.