The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has raised alarm over alleged arrest and detention of Jewish worshippers, on their way to the burial of the parents of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
HURIWA urged Tukur Burutai, the chief of army staff, to investigate the arrest and detention of persons dressed as Jewish worshippers by soldiers near Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
The group said those detained members of the fast-growing Jewish community in Nigeria.
“Nigeria should even publish a guide book on the strategic need to avoid anti-semitic actions by armed forces and all Nigerians. The Chief of Army Staff has the will power to do so.” the group added.
It said this in a statement signed by its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Friday.
“It is expected that General Buratai who has a good record as the Military Chief and deepened civil-military relations and has continued to implement mechanisms for bringing into fruition an effective peace-building and democratic supports to the constituted authority of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, must make it mandatory for his operatives who are carrying out internal military operations to respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.
“We have it on good authority that the Army Chief of staff has since published and circulated a reader’s friendly green handbook containing dozens of binding global, municipal, continental and local human rights provisions that have been mainstreamed in all military internal security operations.
“HURIWA expects that the Army Chief of Staff will, therefore, direct his foot soldiers to maintain good professionalism and avoid doing things that could tarnish the corporate image of the Nigerian Army which must remain as a pride of the nation,” it said.
The human rights writers also said soldiers or the Police should not harass, intimidate, arrest arbitrarily, or undermine the constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights and freedoms of the Nigerian citizens, only on the basis of their religion, adding that “That is offensive to Section 42, subsection 1 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. ”
It stated that Buratai should order the release of those detained, if he finds the allegations discriminatory enough.
“We at the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), who is in partnership with the office of the Chief of Army Staff and the Army for the promotion of constructive CIVIL MILITARY DIALOGUES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS MAINSTREAMING IN THE PUBLIC FUNCTIONS OF OUR NIGERIAN ARMY we are very much aware that the Chief of Army Staff is conversant with what the requirements of the law says in this regard, therefore, we appeal to him to order the immediate release of these men and women who were allegedly arrested near Umuahia because we have just been informed by our field officials in Umuahia.
“There are several provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, The Nigerian Constitution Chapter 4 and a plethora of legal provisions that make it obligatory that security forces must comply with the rule of law and in particular the human rights of citizens which on several occasions he himself the Chief of Army Staff has emphasized on several occasions and several public forums and has always been known for saying so this is the time and a litmus test for himself and his office which we are confident he will once more not tolerate abuses of the human rights of citizens,” it said further.
HURIWA appealed to him “as partners to please order the release of these individuals who have committed no offence. It is not an offence for anybody to choose or worship his or her God anyway they want to worship. Everybody must not be either Christians or Muslims. People even have the right to worship no one; atheism. They have the fundamental human rights to go about their legitimate activities even as Atheists without being harassed or without being coerced to join any of the established mainstream religious organizations.
“What are these Army operatives that arrested these people trying to accomplish? Are these Army operatives trying to force these individuals to either become Christians or Muslims? What rights have they to arrest people simply because they see them dressing in Jewish regalia?
“What law in Nigeria states that someone must not dress like a Jewish person? That is anti-Semitism which is a very serious offence.
“I hope the Chief of Army Staff is aware of the severity of this offence? As a global traveller, the well-educated Army Chief is aware that this is why the Labour Party in Britain lost the election because the Labour Party is said not to have a clear position on anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity and that is exactly what the soldiers have just manifested by arresting people based on the fact that they are Jewish worshippers. This must not be allowed to happen.
“They must not be kept beyond the next 30 minutes. They should be released unconditionally and if they are not released, we at HURIWA appeal to them to use legal means to seek the redress of the harm done to their fundamental rights.
“We hope that this prayer and statement will reach the desk of the Chief of Army Staff and that action will be taken without any further waste of time even as we urge Nigerians to support the Nigerian Army in the war on terror.”