The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned the Minister of Information Mr. Lai Mohammed and military authorities to stop peddling politically motivated rumours of a planned take-over of government.
HURIWA said it is a constitutional right of opposition parties to democratically and constructively paint a ruling party in bad light before the electorate so as to win election.
The group said it was gravely erroneous for politicians or the military to interprete litigation by political opposition or criticisms as attempts to unseat the government.
It also tasked government and heads of the security forces to work out effective strategies of quality intelligence gathering so as to combat the ongoing ever expanding insecurity, banditry and kidnappings all across the country.
The rights group said it was disingenuous and discreditable that politicians under the cover of cabinet level offices have penetrated and corrupted the hierarchies of the military to begin to dish out half-baked tales by moonlight accusing political opposition of sponsoring violent crimes.
The rights group said it was disgraceful that government has to resort to cheap blackmail as a way to explain away the gross irresponsibility that it has demonstrated in such a callous manner that government is appearing overwhelmed by the dare-devil activities of hoodlums, armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and other forms of sophisticated criminals roaming the streets of Nigeria freely unleashing violence of unprecedented scale.
HURIWA faulted the claim made by both politicians such as the minister of information and the spokesman of the military that losers during the last election are behind banditry.
“These breakdowns of law and order and unprecedented widespread killings have gone on for years. Why is the government suddenly waking up to tbe pastime of the blame game of blaming those who lost the 2019 general elections for the violence and terrorism that have remained intractable for nearly a decade and for which most Nigerians in 2015 voted a former General Muhammadu Buhari believing that he had the solutions to them?”
“We think that this scheme to apparently rope in political opponents into some phantom coup is cheap blackmail which has attracted global opprobrium for Nigeria from the rest of the civilized world who would think that Nigeria is still a banana republic administered by trigger – happy and gun-wielding dictators. Government officials must behave and speak in a dignified manner please”.
Signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA’s statement declared that the Ninister of Information is not a fit and proper person to hold such a high office.
In the first instance, the group said Mr. Lai Mohammed as a small time lawyer is not a media professional to have qualified to hold the office of the minister of information.
HURIWA said that in any case the ministry of information is anachronistic, irrelevant and a drain on the scarce resources of Nigeria because in almost all democracies, there is no such money guzzling contraption like the ministry of information. “The media industry in Nigeria is virile and vibrant and does not require a ministry. Nigerians are happy that we have a top quality media industry. All that we need is for the regulatory and legal frameworks to be enforced in such a way that there would be constructive responsible journalism with all the freedoms as enshrined in chapter 4 of the constitution and the Freedom of information Act respected and allowed to thrive.
“The regulatory bodies for the information sector must be independent, apolitical and professional and not the caricature and partisan officials we now have”.
HURIWA continued:”The Federal Government allegation that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar were planning overthrow the President Muhammadu Buhari administration through a military coup is cheap blackmail which borders on executive rascality and reckless talk. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who addressed State House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari, decried the development, insisting that the PDP and their proxies have already begun hatching the plot. Mr. Mohammed, who declined questions from newsmen to offer clarification on the allegations, said: the PDP and Atiku are doing everything possible to sabotage the Buhari administration and generally overheat the polity. They want to make Nigeria seemingly ungovernable, especially through their public utterances and their poorly-thought-out press statements before and after the 2019 general elections.”
HURIWA recalled that while accusing the PDP and Atiku of desperation, he further alleged that already, a faceless group has emerged calling for overthrow of the government, describing it an egregious act of treason. In his address titled: PDP’s Brand of Opposition Politics Poses Great Threat to Nigeria’s Democracy, he said the Federal Government strongly decried the increasingly unpatriotic and desperate opposition politics being played by the PDP, warning that such opposition could be toxic for the nation’s democracy, if unchecked”.
The minister added: “Never in the history of politics in Nigeria has an opposition party exhibited the kind of desperate tactics being deployed by the PDP and its flag-bearer, especially since President Buhari defeated Atiku in the 2019 presidential elections.”
“For those who may accuse the government of crying wolf, the pre-election statement credited to the former Vice President, that unless Nigerians vote out the APC Administration, herdsmen’s killings will continue and ultimately spark an irreversible ethno-religious crises, looks more like a Freudian slip than anything else,” .
HURIWA however tasked government to provide concrete and verifiable evidence about those circulating materials deemed injurious to national security and allow appropriate legal institutions to carry out their functions without political interference rather than playing to the gallery.
“No sane person will accept military dictatorship. This government must stop peddling toxic rumours of coup plots in their desperation to rope in political adversaries of the current administration”.
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