HURIWA protests against alleged media trial of Matawalle

Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Friday in Abuja, took its agitation for all anti-corruption bodies in Nigeria to subscribe and comply fully with the constitutional principles of rule of law and push back any external pressure to resort to media orchestrated persecution of any alleged offender but to follow due process.

HURIWA also threw her unalloyed and total solidarity and support with the anti-corruption crusade of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which it maintained should be law-based and tailored towards strict compliance to the principle of rule of law and provisions safeguarding human rights of citizens encompassed in the ground norm of the Nigerian state.

HURIWA’s lamented what it called deluge of politically motivated protests by politicians against the serving cabinet member of the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the person of the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle.

HURIWA advocated the observance of the tenets of the law that recognises even suspects as being totally innocent in the eyes of the law until a contrary determination is reached by a competent court of law and not court of seekers of ‘lynch mob injustice’.

At the event attended by several affiliates and supporters of civil Rights and democracy, HURIWA’S  national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel  Onwubiko read out a letter the rights group also presented to the executive chairman of the EFCC Mr. Olanipekun Olukayode, in Abuja.

The letter read: “We are compelled to address the recent developments regarding the protests against the Minister of State for Defence, H.E. Dr. Bello Muhammed Matawalle MON. The protests, which appear to be sponsored, have reached a disturbing level and are now a cause for serious concern.

“While the right to peaceful assembly and free speech is fundamental, and these rights should not be exercised in a manner that disturbs public peace and security.

“The latest group of protesters identified itself as Tinubu youths and Women Network. Besides, the APC Akida Forum recently submitted a petition alleging Dr. Matawalle’s involvement in arms deals and financial improprieties which happened about fifteen years back.

“However, it is imperative to state that if the allegation against him was true, he couldn’t have emerged as a member of federal House of Representatives,  Governor of his state or a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is crucial to emphasize that allegations alone do not constitute guilt. These claims lack substantial evidence and seem politically motivated. We urge that such matters be handled through the proper legal channels, with written petitions submitted to the EFCC as required by law, rather than through public protests that aim to intimidate and exert undue pressure on the Commission.

“Dr. Matawalle has consistently operated within the bounds of the law and has expressed his willingness to cooperate fully with the EFCC to ensure a transparent and fair inquiry. His track record of service to the nation speaks for itself. volumes about his integrity and dedication to public office. As such, the EFCC must conduct its investigations without external pressures or distractions.

“The context of these allegations cannot be ignored. Nigeria’s political landscape is often marred by smear campaigns and character assassination attempts, particularly against those in positions of authority. The ongoing protests are likely aimed at diverting political office holders from their duties and responsibilities.

“We, at HURIWA, respectfully request the Executive Chairman of the EFCC to discourage these politically motivated protests against government functionaries. We advise those with grievances to follow due process by submitting written petitions or seeking redress through competent courts of law.

“Furthermore, we propose that the protesters or their sponsors sign a bond agreeing that, should the investigation exonerate Dr. Matawalle, they will face arrest and be made to pay the same amount they are alleging as damages to Dr. Matawalle.

“The EFCC is a respected institution that must uphold its mandate with integrity and independence. We trust that you will consider our concerns and take the necessary steps to ensure that justice is served impartially.”