The Coalition for Truth and Justice has warned the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) against promoting hate speeches and ethno-religion bigotry in Nigeria.
The group was reacting to the comment made by HURIWA over the President Muhamadu Buhari’s attendance of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
HURIWA had faulted the president for going for the IOC summit a day after his swearing-in for second term in office, describing it as “illegal and unconstitutional.
Timothy Charles, Executive Director of the group in a statement warned HURIWA to to rather focus on deemphasizing religion in Nigeria as opposed to highlighting sectarian differences in a way that is hurting national cohesion.
The statement reads below:
Curiously, neither HURIWA nor its human representation – Emmanuel Onwubiko expressed such sentiments when former President Goodluck Jonathan, a self-professed Christian, travelled to Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday February 6, 2013 to attend the 12th OIC meeting. Jonathan’s participation at that time and Buhari’s participation now are consistent with Nigeria’s membership of the body and nothing to do with Islamizing Nigeria.
It is most unfortunate that the associates of this same Jonathan were the one that hired the disreputable United Kingdom firm, Cambridge Analytica to run the campaign of disinformation during the 2015 elections that President Buhari will Islamize Nigeria.
Onwubiko and HURIWA helping Cambridge Analytica that is now defunct to continue peddling such damaging lie is not just incomprehensible but also showed the complete dearth of reasoning in whatever intervention is coming from HURIWA and other people that have made similar alarmist remarks without first availing themselves of facts.
Interestingly, Onwubiko and other bigots that have made so much ruckus over this issue happen to travel on roads built with proceeds of Sukuk bonds without being allergic to Islamic component entailed. Some of them are even beneficiaries of interest free Islamic banking and yet come to the open to incite Nigerians against each other on the basis of religion.
Has it occurred to HURIWA, Onwubiko and other critics that this OIC meeting is a golden opportunity for Nigeria to engage with the Middle East countries towards finding solution to the export of extremism from the area to Nigeria? Have they also thought of it that beyond seeking partnership in addressing security challenges Nigeria is now compelled to explore new frontiers for trade relations?
Coalition for Truth and Justice is strongly of the view that Onwubiko’s HURIWA has lost touch with its claim of being a human rights NGO. Otherwise, it would have realized that every spectrum of Nigeria’s population are entitled to being represented at international fora that accommodate their sectarian beliefs to the extent that the fundamental rights of others are not trampled in the course of so doing. It is remarkable that this same HURIWA had defended the right of a particular Islamic sect to torment other citizens without having to face consequences.
This raises the angle of ethnic sentiments upon which Onwubiko will attack anything that has to do with the government of President Buhari because he has been decisive in curtailing the excesses of separatists that are advocating the breakup of Nigeria. It is no surprise that Onwubiko has in the past defended such separatist elements against President Buhari, so the OIC criticism is apparently a continuation of the ethnic bitterness that has made him declare war on the President of the country simply because he is from a different ethnic extraction from the owner of HURIWA.
In the event that Onwubiko’s HURIWA is short of genuine issues in need of agitation, it should consider either removing Sunday from being a work free day since Muslims work on Friday or Friday should be made a fully work free day so that it will have the same status as Sunday. While at it, HURIWA should also campaign for Nigeria to withdraw from all organizations that have predominantly Christian member nations so that the proviso that the state shall not adopt any religion as state religion will be completely adhered to.
Not to be left out is a campaign to approve nationally recognized holidays for days of observances for animists and traditional faiths in the country in addition to ensuring their adherents and atheists are sponsored to attend any uplifting spiritual or emotional experience of their choice outside Nigeria.
We urge HURIWA to rather focus on deemphasizing religion in Nigeria as opposed to highlighting sectarian differences in a way that is hurting national cohesion. A sincere campaign on its part will involve the removal of the religious question from public documents or alternately that every shades of faith must be listed for applicants to select from as opposed to the current situation where the only option available to Nigerians are “Christianity, Islam, Others”.
We therefore condemn the position taken by HURIWA on the OIC summit in its entirety as inflammatory and taken in bad faith to incite hatred against adherents of a particular faith in the country. HURIWA is advised to retrace its steps and stop causing disaffection among Nigerians failing which it will be held liable for any breach of the peace that arise from its inflammatory utterances.