The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has lashed out at Private Estate International West Africa Limited (PEIWA) over its threat of legal action against it.
The civil society organisation described the threat and warning by PEIWA as misdirected aggression, saying it has no business with the estate group.
A statement issued by HURIWA on Saturday and obtained by PlatinumPost, also described PEIWA warning as subtle blackmail to harass it from exercising its responsibility as a civil rights advocacy group.
The rights group said PEIWA had issued the warning in a news report on Thursday while reacting to a recent statement by the human rights group, where it alleged that men of the Nigeria Police were being used by land grabbers.
Making the response against the backdrop of the press statement in which PEIWA reportedly threatened to institute a contempt or defamation proceeding against HURIWA, the rights group through the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, told PEIWA to take its angst elsewhere because HURIWA has no business with any of the said pending court cases related to land ownership in Enugu State.
HURIWA said as a responsible body of activists, “our intervention ends at informing the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the allegations that some of his officers went on an illegal duty in a part of Enugu State and in the process some villagers who alleged violations of their human rights approached HURIWA and we subsequently asked the Nigerian Police as an institution created by the Constitution to investigate their men.
“It could be recalled that PEIWA’s statement was signed and made available to DAILY POST by its lawyer, Dr. J. Y. Musa SAN.
” PEIWA reportedly noted that the press conference by HURIWA as an association can be perceived as interference with the course of administration of justice and could mislead the public.
” It therefore alleged that the said press conference by the human rights body constitutes actionable falsehood, for which redress may be sought at the appropriate judicial fora under the laws of defamation against your organization corporately and against Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Ms. Zainab Yusuf personally.
“PEIWA said thus: ‘You are also advised to henceforth desist from taking any further step in the aforesaid matters or conducting itself in any manner as may embroil your organization is time-consuming, costly and very public litigation”. i
HURIWA, however, expressed shock that “we are being threatened with a defamation or contempt suit by a business entity that we absolutely have no relationship with whatsoever.”
The Rights group faulted the claims by the company that it interfered in certain court cases by the said company even as HURIWA submitted that it has no knowledge of any litigation but that its intervention was purely because some people from Amechi and Obeagu Awkunanaw communities in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State alleged that the Force Criminal Investigation Department sent armed SWAT officers to their communities and in the course of this alleged illegal duty some of these persons were brutalized physically just as some of them were arrested and driven to Abuja and some were allegedly taken to Nasarawa State by the office of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police incharge of FCID in Abuja.
HURIWA therefore wondered if this company that threatened with audacity to institute a defamation suit against HURIWA thinks that Nigeria is North Korea or Communist China whereby civil rights are subjugated by the whims and caprices of the powers that be and the dictators of those nations.
The Rights group said as long as there are allegations of human rights abuses by the police or anyone for that matter, HURIWA will step in to Sensitize the heads of the security forces about their constitutional mandates and obligations to the citizens and no amount of blackmail, intimidation, threats to life can stop the just struggle for protection of human rights in Nigeria.
“HURIWA acted because armed with this video footage tjat went viral in which personnel of the SWAT team, FCID Abuja have, penultimate week, reportedly arrested nearly a dozen persons. Interestingly, none of the persons arrested thus far, have any direct connection to the incident they’re supposed to be investigating. Interestingly again, all other persons arrested and those they have, in different gestapo styles, attempted to whisk away from their houses in the last week, are out-spoken individuals from Amechi allegedly.
“The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria is established to deal with all matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights, investigation of alleged human rights violations, and to seek the enforcement of professional code of conducts by armed security operatives in Nigeria. The people of Amechi and Obeagu Awkunanaw communities consider this SOS appeal to us and to IGP a last resort, and we as an independent organisation of human rights activists only addressed a press conference to state that we will ask the IGP to intervene and provide immediate and far reaching redress to these Nigerians whose civil rights were flouted by the police.”
“In which way did we defame PEIWA or does the company work for the DIG incharge of FCID in Abuja? How did we defame a company that does not work as part of the Nigerian Police Force that we complained about? May we also ask this Company to leave us out of their issues because we are simply doing our job as human rights practitioners who in the course of our duty therefore prayed the IGP to heed the SOS appeal of the Amechi and Obeagu Awkunanaw people whose Constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights are abused by certain individuals belonging to the Nigeria Police Force”.