Rights Group Seeks US Visa Ban Against Gov. Umahi for Attacks on Political Opposition
By Ed Malik, A | February 4, 2023

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), Nigeria’s frontline civil rights advocacy group, on Friday, condemned carefully choreographed and non-stop attacks on political opponents and non-members of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Ebonyi State.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, urged the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba to change the Police Commissioner in the State, Aliyu Garba for alleged complicity and for reportedly working in cahoots with the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Nweze Umahi; and the ruling APC in the State to terrorize and restrict lawful democratic activities of opposition parties.

The group described as anti-democratic tendencies on display by the current Governor and vowed to petition foreign missions; particularly the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia on the heightened levels of threats to the lives of political opposition politicians in Ebonyi State. HURIWA vowed to call for visa restriction against Governor Umahi, if within seven working days, there is no significant improvement in the respect to the fundamental human rights of all politicians irrespective of affiliations.

The group also condemned the use of State-owned security outfit, Ebubeagu, to intimidate political opponents of the Governor and APC in Ebonyi. Umahi, whose eight-year tenure as governor ends on May 31, is one of the senatorial candidates of the APC in the State.

HURIWA said it is on record that Governor Umahi, out of intolerance for political opponents in the State, directed the police and other security agencies to withdraw orderlies and security details from candidates of political parties, directors-generals and party officials other than the APC.

The governor has also spewed several undemocratic utterances ahead of the February 25 and March 11 general elections like the one he said on November 7, 2022 on Channels Television when he said there is no other political party in Ebonyi apart from APC and told opponents to shut up.

There have been incidents of political intolerances in Ebonyi by state-sponsored police and the local Ebubeage militia. The police once dispersed Peter Obi’s supporters during a solidarity march in the State capital, Abakaliki, in September 2022. The Labour Party candidate for the Oyi constituency at the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr. Obinna Okafor, once accused Umahi, of sponsoring the “attack” carried out on the supporters of Peter Obi.

In January, an All Progressives Grand Alliance supporter in Ebonyi State, Amobi Ujar was allegedly framed up and beaten to a pulp by members of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit in Enugu.

Abakiliki-based journalists like Godfrey Chikwere, Peter Okutu, Agwu Chijioke, amongst others were all arrested and victimised by the governor using state-sponsored security agencies.

Labour Party candidate for the Ebonyi South District, Linus Okorie, has been repeatedly victimized, abducted, arrested and remanded through state-sponsored security agents.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “Political violence of any form is an offence under the Electoral Act 2022 and a crime under extant criminal laws in Nigeria and its manifestations should therefore be arrested immediately as it endangers national security amid the forthcoming elections.

“HURIWA condemns the harassment, intimidation, killings of political opposition in Ebonyi State and the criminal and anti-democratic and unconstitutional activities of Ebubeagu in Ebonyi as a tool against opponents of the governor.

“We call on the IGP to change the commissioner of police in Ebonyi who is accused of compromising his neutrality and allowing the criminality of Ebubeagu to continue. We also call on the National Assembly, the DSS, the National Security Adviser, President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps to curtail the excesses of these barbaric outfit that has derailed.

“As a group, we also demand for independent investigation of all the allegations of politically motivated killings in Enonyi State and ask the outgoing governor to be a democrat and allow for freedom of expression and information and freedom of movements by all political contestants in Ebonyi State.

“HURIWA will not hesitate to write to the USA, UK Australia on the heightened levels of threats to the lives of political opposition politicians in Ebonyi State and call for visa restriction for the governor if within seven working days there is no significant improvement in the respect to the fundamental human rights of all politicians irrespective affiliations.”

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