A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has urged the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru to stop the indiscriminate use of firearms by his officers and men in parts of Imo State which has resulted in the killing of scores of civilians.
The rights group said such killings constituted crimes against humanity and gross violations of the constitutional rights of freedoms of the citizens.
The rights group particularly condemned the conversion of the Government House gate in Owerri into a killing field by armed soldiers who have in the last 48 hours murdered scores of innocent bystanders and a bus driver.
It said it would officially be writing to the chief of army staff to demand redress for these heinous crimes of extra legal executions of citizens and to serve him a notice that he could be dragged before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands should he fail to get his officers to operate in accordance with the laws of Nigeria and in line with the rules of engagement in all internal military operations and in compliance with the best global practices.
HURIWA cited the killing by soldiers in Owerri of Miss Divine Nwaneri, a 24-year-old student of the Imo State University (IMSU), Department of Soil Science and Biotechnology, who died, after she was hit by a stray bullet allegedly fired by military personnel, on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
The rights group said not even at war time should soldiers be seen using fellow human beings for games as if they were in a hunting expedition just as the rights advocacy organisation said even in war time the military ought to respect the Vienna Declaration and avoid all acts of extra legal executions.
HURIWA said eyewitness reports noted that the 100-level student was hit by a stray bullet while she was on her way home at about 10:00 p.m. The bullet was allegedly fired by one of the soldiers who were keeping guard at the Government House in Owerri.
The civil society organisation said it was further gathered that the soldiers were shooting at a car when Miss. Divine and others were hit by stray bullets. She was rushed to the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Owerri, where she was confirmed dead. Others are currently receiving treatment at the hospital.
The rights group is therefore demanding justice and the fishing out of the perpetrators so they face the full wrath of the law.
HURIWA also condemned the killing by sodiers of a bus driver who was reportedly conveying pigs and drove through the Government’s House road in Owerri unaware of the blockade imposed arbitrarily by the Nigerian Army banning all traffic on that hitherto busy road .
” This innocent bus driver was simply killed just for driving through a government road constructed from taxpayers money and apparently killed by soldiers maintained at the expense of the Nigerian taxpayers”, the group said.
HURIWA described this as atrocious, unwarranted, and primitive.
It also condemned the alleged burning of houses of traditional rulers in Benue State during a military raid, noting that arbitrariness and such illegality had no place in the military of the 21st century just as it wondered if the Nigerian army was being returned to the state of nature whereby might is right.
According to HURIWA, the hierarchy of the army should effectively get interested in expanding the frontiers of dialogues between civilians and soldiers because that is how to get the citizens to fully appreciate the sacrifices of the men and women in uniforms.
It said : ” If the army respects the human rights of civilians there won’t be need for the army spokesman to start crying wolf that people display indecent photos of soldiers killed in the most gruesome manner in the theatre of war because the bulk of the citizens will be willing to speak and defend the integrity of the army.”
In a media statement by the National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA strongly reminds the Nigerian Army that the Nigerian military does not perform its roles in a vacuum as it derives them from the constitution, currently the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which is binding and supreme.
HURIWA restated that the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 is the grundnorm or supreme law that voids any other law that is inconsistent with it to the extent of the inconsistency even as the rights group tells the chief of army staff that the roles of the military do not include arbitrary and unlawful application of firearms against civilians but that legally in Sections 217-220, the Constitution provide for the establishment, roles, command and operational use of the armed forces and related matters.
HIRIWA then proceeded to recall the specific roles of the military as follows: “For the avoidance of semantic doubts, sections 217(1) and (2) provides as follows:
“(1) There shall be armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. (2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of (a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression; (b) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; (c) Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”
HURIWA also quoted from expert opinions to inform the army chief that soldiers are not above the law because it says that the doctrine of compact means that they can be charged both in military judicial forum and criminal justice system because as was further explained by Justice Willes in Dawkins v. Lord Rokeby, who opined thus “But with respect to persons who enter into the military state, who take His Majesty’s pay, and who consent to act under his commission, although they do not cease to be citizens in respect of responsibility yet they do by a compact which is intelligible and which requires only the statement of it to the consideration of any one of common sense, become subject to military rule and discipline.”
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BREAKING: Fire Guts Supreme Court
A section of the Supreme Court complex in Abuja, was gutted by fire on Monday morning.
It was learnt that the fire, which started around 7am, caused panic among staff members of the court who scampered to safety.
Though no human casualty was recorded, however, it was not clear whether sensitive documents and files were destroyed by the early morning fire at the court situated at the Three-Arm-Zone, Abuja.
It was learnt that the fire might have been caused by electrical malfunction in one of the offices within the administrative wing of the court.
The source confirmed that three offices, including that of Justice Mohammed Saulawa, was touched by the fire before it was eventually put off.
Abiodun Pays Tribute To Alaperu’s Late Wife, Harps On Enduring Legacies
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has extolled the exemplary virtues of the late wife of the Alaperu of Iperu, Olori Kehinde Idowu Basibo-Odoru, describing her as a strong pillar for her husband and a unifying factor for the entire royal family while alive.
The late queen was born on April 23, 1962, and passed on at the age of 61 on 27th July 2023. Her funeral and thanksgiving service was held on Friday at the St. James Anglican Church, Iperu.
The governor, in his remarks, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the royal father, Alaiyeluwa, Oba Adeleke Idowu-Basibo, and the people of the town over the loss, as he prayed for necessary fortitude to carry on in her absence.
He recounted the enviable attributes of the late Olori while alive as bold, lovely and supportive; with passion to help those around her, adding that she would be sorely missed by her immediate family, the entire town of Iperu and Ogun State in general.
“On behalf of the government and the good people of Ogun State, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to my brother, the Alaperu of Iperu, Oba Adeleke Idowu-Basibo, on the passing of his adorable wife.
“The late Olori was a friend and reliable companion to her husband till death. She was also a doting mother to her children. We are going to sorely miss her; may the good Lord repose her soul,” Abiodun said.
The governor counselled the congregation on the need to be fair to all in all ways while alive, to leave worthy legacies after death as exemplified by the late Queen.
He continued: “Life is a journey; we all have our exit points. We have no power over that, it is inevitable. What is important is what we do while we are here, what type of tribute would be written about you when you are no more.”
BREAKING: Govt Increases Salaries Of University Lecturers, Others
In a bid to improve the lot of tertiary education, the Federal Government has increased the salaries of the lecturers and non-academic staff in the nation’s public universities.
The increase was approved by the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission.
This includes payment of a newly approved percentage increment in salaries for academic and non-academic staff of all Federal Government’s tertiary institutions in the country.
This is as the percentage increment for junior staff of tertiary institutions was raised from 23.5% which was reviewed last year to 25%. Our correspondent gathered that the arrears of the increment from January 2023 will also be paid.
Though nothing was said about the withheld salaries of the academics and non-academics who embarked on strike in 2022, it was learnt that the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, earlier wrote the Chairman of the NSIWC, Ekpo Nta, to demand the status of the collective.
According to sources within the Ministry of Education, the decision of the minister to write the NSIWC might not be unconnected from visitations by some of the academic unions and intervention by some pressure groups.
When asked if polytechnic lecturers were aware of the new development, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, said that the union heard of the news and were looking forward to the implementation.
“Definitely, we heard of it and we are looking forward to it. There will be 25% increment for junior lecturers while chief lecturers and professors will benefit from 35% increment,” he said.
The National Vice-President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Chris Piwuna, disclosed that such a letter would be addressed to the management of universities and not ASUU.
A letter by the Chief Executive Officer/Chairman of the NSIWC, Eyo Nta, which was addressed to the Minister of Education on September 14,2023 shortly before his departure to the United Nations General Assembly in New York
tagged ‘RE: Implementation of the 35% and 23.5% salary increment for staff of tertiary institutions,’ reads: “I refer to your letter No. FME/IS/UNI/ASUU/C.I/IT?/90 dated 8th September 2023 in respect of the above-subject. Find attached the circulars pertaining to the four salary structures in the Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education for your information (attached).
“The 23.5% earlier reflected in our letter SWC/S/04/S.149/I/59 of 28 July 2022 and stated in paragraph 2 of your letter, has been increased to 25% which accounted for the increased cost implications. This Commission is really pleased with the success your informal discussions have achieved. We shall endeavour to support all your efforts aimed at repositioning the Education Sector. Please accept the assurances of my warm regards.”
Consequently, the commission proceeded to issue a circular also dated September 14, 2023 and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation among others informing them of the implementation of the newly reviewed salaries.
The circular reads: “ The Presidential Committee on Salaries at its 13th meeting having taken into consideration the various stages of collective bargaining in various sectors, and specifically engagements between the Federal Ministry of Education and Tertiary Institutions-based Unions, and consequent upon the Federal Government’s approval, as well as 2023 budgetary provisions, approval is hereby conveyed for the revision of the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Salary Structure for academic staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with effect from 1st January 2023.”
Also, a letter from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation dated September 21, 2023 which was made available to our correspondent on Friday in Abuja confirmed the increment.
The letter which was signed on behalf of the Director, Human Resource of the office, Ajanaku F.O reads, “I am directed to inform you that the Presidential Committee on Salaries at it’s 13th meeting having taken into consideration the different stages of collective bargaining in various sectors and specifically engagements between the Federal Ministry of Education and Tertiary Institutions-based Unions and consequently the Federal Government’s approval, is hereby conveyed as revised for the following:-
“Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Salary Structure for Academic Staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure II for non-Academic Staff of Federal Universities, with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated Tertiary Education Institutions Salary Structure for non – Academic Staff of Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, with effect from 1st January, 2023.
“Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure II (CONUASS II) for Academic Staff of Federal University with effect from 1st January, 2023.”
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