Campaign of calumny against ex-Delta State governor senseless – HURIWA

 
 
A
frontline pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization, the Human
Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, has raised the alarm that some
mushroom but politically motivated group of individuals have since last
Monday commenced frantic search for credible platforms in the nation’s
capital, Abuja, to hire to tarnish the public standing of ex-Delta State
Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
 
This
was disclosed on Tuesday at a media briefing by the National
Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; the Nigerian Human
Rights Queen (2017), Miss Chioma Okoli; and other officials.
 
Onwubiko
confirmed to journalists that his organization has been inundated by
pressure from some known political blackmailers to be enlisted in a
sinister plot to stage street protests to the premises of the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission to attempt to hoodwink the hierarchy of
the anti-graft panel to begin systematic witch-hunt of the immediate
past administration of Delta State.
The
Rights group wondered why unscrupulous persons sometimes with powerful
political sponsorship will seek to continuously attempt to recruit
registered groups that have credibility to do some sinister campaign
when legally such organisations can be sued by those politically exposed
persons whose well earned good reputation as statesmen/women are being
tarnished on the alter of sensational media stories. 
 
The
Rights group said the ongoing mass demonisation and character
assassination of some members of the political class whose political
tenures in various offices have remained untainted has created the
erroneous impression that all political office holders in Nigeria are
corrupt. 
 
Onwubiko
said: “This is a fallacy with far reaching negative implication for the
standing in the international community of civilised nations of the
Nigerian Nation State.”
 
HURIWA
noted that it has become imperative for it to go public with this
information so Nigerians would be made aware of the existence of many
phantom groups, whose major preoccupation is to stoke the embers of
hatred against targeted high profile Nigerians just because such persons
may not have agreed to be blackmailed into paying huge pay outs to such
professional and career blackmailers. 
 
Onwubiko
said: “These evil intentioned Nigerians are exploiting the notorious
fact that corruption as a major factor that contributed to the
underdevelopment of Nigeria has understandably forced the current
government to focus extensively on waging anti-graft war.”
 
HURIWA,
however, warned against the deployment of crude and illegal process of
mass hysteria and choreographed media trial to engage in the ongoing
crusade to eradicate corruption and economic crimes. 
 
Onwubiko
said: “We urge officials of EFCC to strive to maintain high
professional decorum even as they relentlessly chase after corrupt
politicians.  
 
“EFCC
as an agency set up by law must operate within the ambit of principle
of rule of law and abide by all constitutional provisions.
 
“We
were approached by some professional political blackmailers from Delta
State to make our organization available to be used as a weapon of mass
politically motivated battle against the person and character of the
former governor of Delta State but we declined on the ground that the
allegations against Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan are not only false but are
well orchestrated campaign of calumny meant to prepare the ground for
the media trial of the immediate past governor. 
 
“We
also declined to participate because we know with available records
that as the governor of Delta State, Dr. Uduaghan carried out landmark
programmes and projects that significantly improved greater respect to
the Human Rights of Delta State residents. 
 
“The then administration transparently handed over to the current administration.  
“As
a credible Civil Society platform that has been on ground for 10 years
now, HURIWA meticulously monitored the immediate past administration of
Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and we can without any fear of contradiction
assert that with the evidence at our disposal, those allegations being
bandied about are frivolous, unsubstantiated, malicious and lacks
credibility. 
 
“How
on Earth could the former governor have pocketed a whooping N800
billion and was able to consistently pay salaries for eight years and
implemented far reaching impactful projects for the people of Delta
State?
 
“Our
fundamental reason for not making our platform available for media
trial of politically exposed persons who we know had discharged their
constitutional duties creditably is because the abundance of provisions
in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 that
frowns against media trial of all persons.
 
“Specifically,
Section 36 (1) provides thus: ‘In the determination of his civil rights
and obligations, including any question or determination by or against
any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair
hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal
established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its
independence and impartiality.’
 
“Importantly
Section 36 (5) has it that even when any person has been charged in the
competent court of law, the person is presumed innocent until proven
guilty.
 
“We
use this medium to appeal to reputable groups in the organized civil
society community not to allow the current economic recession to push
them into making their organizations available for political
witch-hunt.” 
 
HURIWA
reasoned that those championing these campaigns of calumny have
ulterior motives to railroad the judiciary into passing thoughtful
verdicts against their perceived political opponents whenever the
anti-graft agency is armtwisted to head to court.  
 
It
added: “It is our conviction that EFCC will not allow blackmailers to
push them into embarking on wild goose chase which will cost taxpayers
billions of cash that could have been deployed to provide social
services and other democracy dividends.
 
“Judicial
independence is essentially composed of two foundations (i.e individual
and institutional) that cumulatively ensure the independence of the
judiciary. 
 
“Independence
of the judiciary means that every judge is free to decide matters
before him in accordance with his assessment of the facts and his
understanding of the law, without any improper influences, inducement,
or pressures, direct or indirect, in any quarter or for any reason; and
that the judiciary is independent from the executive and legislature,
and has jurisdiction directly, or indirectly, or by way of review, over
all issues of a judicial nature 15.
 
“See ‘Judicial Independence: the contemporary debate’, Shimon Shetreet and Jules Deschenes eds: 1985.
 
“Justice
Musdapher also reminds us that: ‘Impartiality is essential to the
proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the
decision itself but also to the process by which decisions are made.
Judges must perform their judicial duties without favour, bias or
prejudice and ensure that their conduct both in and out of court
maintains and enhances the confidences of the public, the legal
profession and the litigants in the impartiality of the judicial
system.’
 
“As
a Civil Society group active in the media, we are aware of the
existence of verifiable documentary evidence to show that the last
administration in Delta State achieved many landmark projects that
improved human development such as the following: “100 bed Mother &
Child Unit at Central Hospital in Warri; Upgrade renal unit (including
installation of chemotherapy machine) at Central Hospital in Warri;
Construction of 18km Trans Ode Itsekiri road project, including 24
bridges; Construction of Internal roads in Ode Itsekiri; Dualization of
Okumagba Avenue and Deco Roads in Warri; Commissioning of 300 kilometers
of streetlights in Warri, Asaba, Ughelli and Sapele; Uplifting and
improvement work at Jakpa and Enerhen Junctions; Construction of fly
over at Effurun Roundabout; Construction of 169 kilometres Federal
Government owned Ughelli -Asaba highway including completion of section B
of the Road; Payment for West African Examination Council Exam for SS3
students for seven years; Free education for primary and secondary
pupils and students; Payment of bursary and scholarship for Delta State
students in higher institutions; Payment of N5 million to first class
graduates from any institution of higher learning to pursue postgraduate
studies anywhere in the world; Free maternal care from conception till
delivery, including ceaserian section (surgery); Free health care for
children from zero to five years and elderly above 65 years; Free Mobile
clinic to boost rural health care; provision of more than 1000 Buses
and Taxis as intervention into the transportation sector, including the
construction of modern bus stops and parks; Subsidising of transport
fares of mass transit buses by 50 per cent and free buses for children
in public schools; Dualization of Refinery Road in Warri; Completion of
Jakpa Road Dualization; Completion of the Odion Road/Cemetery Road;
amongst others.
 
“Whilst
not holding brief for ex-Governor Uduaghan, we make haste to denounce
the current blackmail in a section of the media and advice the relevant
agencies to play by the Rule of Law.”
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