HURIWA Decries Atiku’s Harassment at Airport
The leading pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the international community to note that Nigeria’s fragile democracy is now going through the toughest threats from within the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration even as the group specifically condemned as outrageous and unacceptable the abuse of power by the Presidency for targeting the leading opposition party’s Presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Also the Rights group faulted as spurious, puerile and pedestrian the explanation offered by the minister of state for Aviation the Cousin of President Muhammadu Buhari Mr. Hadi Sirika that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party’s in the 2019 election was searched on arrival from Dubai the United Arab Emirates because that was the routine at the aviation facilities in the Country just as the Rights group stated that close family members of the President who often travel out of the Country and back making use of the publicly funded Presidential planes are not subjected to body searches nor is the jet searched but rather they are welcomed at the Airports by top ranking cabinet level members of the current government even when these family members are not officials of the Nigerian government. HURIWA asserted that even officials of the administration who should also be subjected to bodily searches at the airports are never made to go through these so called routine searches just as the Rights group stated that the fact that the security officials who searched the former Vice President of Nigeria had on them some video and audio recording devices is a clear indication that the activity was properly planned, implemented and monitored at the highest level of the current administration in Abuja.
“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 that 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 uncle to lose the election and therefore can now be seen throwing his power around and abusing his official privileges by subjecting a highly respected Statesman to searches that even the most down graded travellers returning from markets in China are not subjected to.
This explanation by the Aviation minister of state is anything but believable or valid but is a pure fabrication to conceal their shameless faces after they failed as it were from achieving the predetermined plots for which the dubious stop and search was done on the plane of the most respected political opponent of the current President who only few months back was threatened with death the moment he emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP. The searches 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”.
HURIWA said the signals are ominous that constitutional democracy is facing grave danger of imminent collapse unless and except the leaders of the international community directly task the President of Nigeria to stop his government’s rapid adoption of fascism and tyranny.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked the global leaders of democracy in the United Kingdom, United States of America; Germany; France to intervene in the ongoing systematic attacks by the Nigerian government targeting independent leaders of opposition political parties; Civil society organizations; and Non-governmental individuals who have a difference of opinions on certain issues of nation building that fundamentally departs from the position maintained by the President and his top officials. “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. 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”. The Rights group reminded the global leaders that Africa’s stability is imperiled should constitutional democracy be allowed to collapse.
HURIWA recalled that the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika says Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his luxury jet were subjected to routine security measures at the airport when he returned from Dubai where he had been strategizing on the 2019 presidential election.
HURIWA quoted the aviation minister of state Mr. Hadi Sirika as stating as follows: “This is a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines. Nigerians need to know that one of the resolutions of the Atiku team at their recently-concluded, opulently-held Dubai retreat was to embark on scaremongering. This is one of such.”
“For the records, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, Immigration, health and security screening.”
“Where the aircraft is using the private, charter wing, as the PDP Candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the Immigration, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team. The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including the minister unless the passenger is the President of Nigeria. The President, the Vice President and passengers aboard planes on the Presidential air fleet use the Presidential wing of the airport.”
“It is also important to state that even in the Presidential Wing of the airport the President of Nigeria uses, there is the presence of Immigration and other security officials who must stamp his or her passport on arrival.”
“By standard procedure, all aircraft on international arrivals must first of all park at the international wing of the aircraft. They can move to the domestic terminal only upon the completion of the arrival processes.”
“While it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former Vice President’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen.”
“These checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine. No one is excused from them under our laws. These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them.”
“Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve.”
HURIWA however rubbishes the aforementioned claims by the Aviation minister and dismissed it as lacking in verifiable and concrete evidence since it is known that friends and family members of the President are treated as top diplomats at the airports and are never subjected to any form of searches.