IMO, Nigeria – A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to desist from its alleged ongoing harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and humiliation of students of tertiary institutions staying in privately developed hostels in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
HURIWA maintained that it’s unconstitutional and undemocratic to “demonize students based on assumption.”
The Rights group condemned a situation whereby armed EFCC operatives would constantly storm the living hostels of both female and male students of the tertiary institutions in Owerri and round up every student staying in those hostels without any shreds of empirical evidence linking such innocent students to any suspicious activities linked to advanced fee fraud or 419, popularly called Yahoo Yahoo.
A statement by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said in as much as the body, “supports a law-based anti-corruption drive by the statutory bodies empowered to so do, these institutions must not go about denying innocent youths and particularly students from the enjoyment of all their constitutionally protected fundamental human rights as enshrined in chapter four of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
HURIWA listed sections 34(1); 35(1) and section 37 of the Nigeria constitution which guarantees basic freedoms to the citizens including students who must never be subjected to such horrendous ordeals of frequent raids by the operatives of the anti-graft body who have been accused of arbitrarily arresting students only because they live in the same flats with some persons who may be or not suspected at all of committing any criminal act of fraud.
Section 34(1): “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – (a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory labour.”
Section 35(1): “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – (a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty; (b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law; (c) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence; (d) in the case of a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years for the purpose of his education or welfare; (e) in the case of persons suffering from infectious or contagious disease, persons of unsound mind, persons addicted to drugs or alcohol or vagrants, for the purpose of their care or treatment or the protection of the community; or (f) for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of any person into Nigeria or of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal from Nigeria of any person or the taking of proceedings relating thereto: Provided that a person who is charged with an offence and who has been detained in lawful custody awaiting trial shall not continue to be kept in such detention for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence.”
Section 37: “The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”
HURIWA accused the anti-graft agency of, “unduly subjecting these students to unnecessary embarrassment which may impede on their studies and academic pursuits just.”
It called on the operatives of the anti-graft body to abide by the due process of the law in all their operations.
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