By Innocent Anaba & Bartholomew Madukwe
Lawyers and civil rights groups have continued to condemn the siege laid to thes Abuja office of Amnesty International, with Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, supporting the rights group for its work in Nigeria.
Ozekhome said: “Amnesty International was born many years ago by Mr Kenneson to monitor human rights abuses across the world. It has great credibility, even more than Transparency International that monitors corruption.
“So, Amnesty International, based on its findings, investigations, contacts and conclusion has always gone around the world examining human rights violations.
“Nigeria cannot suddenly be an exception. I thought this government was going to protect genuine issues that affect the common man in Nigeria. The time has come for us to save ourselves from self destruction. Was there no Shiite problem where 100 innocent Nigerians were buried in shallow grave? Was there no Kaduna massacre where 800 people were killed in their homes and buried?
“Did we not have Fulani herdsmen massacred across the country, from South West to South East, from South South to North West, from North East to North Central? What is false in this? Is it a lie that Nigerians are suffering?”
Also, Chief Morah Ekwunoh, a lawyer, said: ”I align myself with my colleagues’ and civil society organisations’ condemnations of the obviously sponsored, precipitate and ill-conceived protests against the operations of Amnesty International in Nigeria.
“No doubt, the protests, to the extreme level of demanding closure of the organisation’s office in Nigeria, constitute monumental embarrassment on the image of Nigeria, particularly in the comity of nations, since they project and present the government as full in its aversion of critical views and criticisms vis-a-vis its observance of its citizens’ inalienable fundamental rights.
“If anything, critical views against our military operations from Amnesty International should generate self-introspection on our part, and not the present precipitate hues and cries, which greatly belittle and embarrass us in the eyes of civilised and democratic world.”
Similarly, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety and Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organisations, SBCHROs, have expressed shock and dismay over the ongoing sponsored attacks on Amnesty International.
The groups in a statement by Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi and others, said: “We are shocked and alarmed at the raging campaigns of calumny and state terror being unleashed on the respected international rights group by the agents of the present Federal Government. It is shocking too that the government that parades professors of law and highly ranked civil rights activists as its officials, supporters or consultants can engage in this type of show of shame with its dire international diplomatic and relations consequences.”
“The ongoing state terror and campaigns of calumny against the authorities of Amnesty International also expose the current government’s gross illiteracy and ignorance on the workings of modern international relations and diplomacy which are strongly traditionalized in human rights and citizens’ sovereignty without borders.
“They further expose same as highly intolerant political leadership and gross and unrepentant rights abuser. The panicky response of the current administration by sponsoring the ongoing attacks against AI is a clear admission of guilt and un-readiness and unwillingness of same to make amends over its grossly poor human rights abuses.”