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Despite Herdsmen’s Attacks In 22 Enugu Communities, Governor Mbah Concerned With Deploying Policemen To Kill Traders – Intersociety

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has condemned the killing of traders in Ogbete Main Market in Enugu who were protesting against the government sealing of the shops for not coming to market on Monday over the sit-at-home order.

Intersociety in a statement in reaction to the violence unleashed on innocent traders and residents by Governor Peter Mbah-led government, on Wednesday, called on him to quickly retrace its steps before it was too late, to avoid plunging the state into another Imo killing field, and wittingly or unwittingly supervise wanton destruction of the “Garden-Capital City of the East”.

In the statement signed by its principal officers – Emeka Umeagbalasi, Obianuju Igboeli Esq, Chinwe Umeche Esq, and Ositadinma Agu, the Intersociety queried what the Enugu State government had done about the “Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and the MACABAN’s Fulani Vigilante Group terrorising over 22 Enugu communities.”

The organisation described the Executive ‘criminalisation’ of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” by ways of “tyrannical orders or military and police siege or threats of force or use of same including sealing off markets and use of deadly force against stick and placard-carrying victim-population are nothing short of Executive recklessness and abuse of office.

“They are also clear acts of criminalization of security and other safe conditions or de-criminalization of insecurity and other unsafe conditions. Such Executive conducts are also unconstitutional, illegal, extra-legal, extra jus, and impeachable,” they insisted.

The leadership of Intersociety stated that Enugu State Government must as a matter of uttermost urgency and inexcusability unseal and reopen all markets and other businesses it tyrannically shut down and refrain from such dastardly acts of Executive recklessness and brigandage. “The lawful act of doing business in Enugu or any part thereof must not be allowed to be criminalized and made vulnerable to state and non-state dark forces of destruction.”

It told Governor Mbah that if he is truly concerned, then his Government must critically address the fundamental causes and the triggers of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” which it said include the continued detention without trial of Nnamdi Kanu and sources of the political support and weaponisation by those behind proclamation and enforcement of the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” including whether they are linked or not linked to Nigeria’s national or sub-national Government(s) or their top functionaries.

“It must again be pointed out that going by the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Treaty Rights and Humanitarian Laws, ‘Sit-At-Home’ is not a criminal offence, and exercise of same has never constituted criminal offence known to written law with prescribed penalties in the country.”

“Criminalising ‘Sit-At-Home’ is like criminalizing Rights to Freedom of Worship and Ethnicity guaranteed by the same Section 38 of the Constitution; likewise Section 37 which guarantees citizens’ right to Family and Privacy. By Section 1 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, “if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void.”

Sit-at-home though could be economically damaging in the context of “Monday-Sit-At-Home.”

It, however, does not constitute criminal offense(s), Intersociety insisted, citing Section 36 (8) and (12) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended which specifically forbids any form of executive criminalisation and punishment of any citizen over act or conduct that does not constitute an offense with prescribed penalties in a written law as at the time such act or conduct was carried out.

“So, the conducts of the present Governor and Government of Enugu State are also nothing short of false gallantry and state extremism. It is therefore correct to say that the combined negative effects of abuse of office, pride, and arrogance are at work as well as mis-prioritisation and misapplication of governance policy directions.”

According to the group, Governor Mbah’s radical approaches to “Monday-Sit-At-Home” and their unfolding social consequences would have been avoided and the issue handled with extreme care and caution.

The statement partly read, “One of the frontal ways of handling and ending the “Monday-Sit-At-Home” is a political solution including releasing Nnamdi Kanu on parole and putting an end to age-long ‘structural, physical and cultural violence policy’ against the people of Eastern Nigeria such as political exclusion and reversal of the former President Buhari’s Government ‘operational death code’ against defenseless citizens of the Region.

“Additionally, what is the guarantee that the drafted security agencies especially the military, police, and DSS (Department of State Services) are not “enemy security forces” hiding under the enforcement of “Monday-Sit-At-Home” to massacre defenseless citizens at sight and falsely label them “IPOB/ESN Sit-At-Home Enforcers”? What are the ethnic and religious compositions of the deployed police and military personnel in the South-East including Enugu State?

“What is the position or policy direction of the Governor and Government of Enugu State regarding the unchecked activities of the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and the MACABAN’s Fulani Vigilante Group terrorising over 22 Enugu communities? What are the operational approaches or attitudes of the deployed police, military, and DSS operatives and their chiefs toward Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Enugu State?

“It is therefore unfortunate and deeply regrettable that instead of the present Governor and Government of Enugu State marshaling out or pursuing their development plans by cutting them into the likes of the UNDP’s 1992 ‘Human Security and its Seven Dimensions (health security, food security, economic security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and physical security), they are busy beating about the bush by “criminalising security” and “de-criminalising insecurity” to over-bloat the State Governor’s monthly security votes and have them wastefully spent without statutory accountability in line with the international best practices.

“It is historically unheard of in democratic settings that an elected State Governor uses State coercive instruments to clampdown on defenseless citizens and their immovable and moveable properties including hard-earned goods and services simply because they conscientiously resolved to stay off their businesses in solidarity with Nnamdi Kanu’s continued detention without proper or expeditious trial or compelled to do so to avoid being killed by the strongly suspected Government-linked armed group(s) or hateful and crude security agencies.”

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