Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA), a non-governmental organisation, has called on international communities to prevail on what it describes as threats on “Nigeria’s fragile democracy”.
The group said this in reaction to the search of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), private jet by security operatives upon his return from a trip to Dubai.
The former vice-president had said the search was an attempt to intimidate him.
But reacting via a statement, Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, described the search as a “routine process”, saying only the president is exempted from the screening.
However, the group, in a statement on Monday, described Sirika’s comment as “spurious, puerile and pedestrian”.
It accused the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of abuse of power, saying travellers returning from China markets and members of the president’s family are not subjected to such.
“The reason for the harassment of the opposition leader by security officials who searched his jet and subjected him and members of his entourage to bodily searches as adduced by the minister of aviation does not hold water because there are clear evidences of double standards in such a naked fashion,” the statement read.
“Even young children of the president are accorded the highest diplomatic treatments on arrival or departure from the international airports in Nigeria even when they are just like other ordinary citizens of the Country but the former Vice President of Nigeria Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was subjected to embarrassing searches with video recording devices just because he is the leading opponent of the current President who is the Uncle of the current Aviation minister who ordinarily wouldn’t want his big and benevolent
“The search on the jet of Atiku Abubakar and on their bodies was well choreographed by the Presidency to try to either intimidate, harass and embarrass Atiku Abubakar or try to implicate him in a phantom crime in other to disqualify him from the contest.
“Only last week some hired thugs of the Buhari campaign council had addressed the media calling for the Dubai visit of the candidate of the PDP for the presidential poll to be probed just after the National leader of APC Bola Ahmed Tinubu met Muhammadu Buhari and came out to ridicule the Dubai political meetings of Atiku Abubakar and the Deputy publicity scribe of APC also called for the investigation of the trip. The actions of the security forces were approved by the President.”
The group called on the global leaders of democracy in the UK, US, Germany and France to “intervene in the ongoing systematic attacks by the Nigerian government”.
“We in the independent organized civil society community are under attacks by officials of government with most of these attacks bothering on threats to lives of some of us,” it said.
“The recent search of the Jet of the leading opposition candidate for the coming Presidential election is only but a tip off the iceberg. The global leaders must intervene to save Nigeria’s democracy from collapsing into fascism and totalitarianism similar to what obtains in today’s Venezuela or Philippine.”