Our attention is been drawn to recent publication in the newspapers indicating that a certain human rights group known as Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has been harassing the management of some government parastatals and top public officers with allegations capable of giving such organizations a bad image.
These allegations usually bother on financial mismanagement and ethno-religious favouritism, but are usually not credible references or documentation which create a strong impression that the group is on a mission to blackmail and witch hunt.
Reports from some of the human rights community, especially in the federal capital Abuja, show that HURIWA, unlike other human rights groups is more active in the print and online media but rarely participate in sensitization, mobilization and advocacy of the general public through seminars and public procession and gathering.
Some of the past targets of the HURIWA media attacks have disclosed that the media attacks usually commence after indirect efforts to intimidate the victims, using claims of the group’s connection with the ICPC and through access to petitions submitted to the agency. The HURIWA group has however had problem in associating itself with the EFCC in the past, as a result of which the group launched similar propaganda of ethnicity, nepotism and even corrupt practices against the EFCC.
As a matter of fact, the EFCC has in the past issued press statement debunking HURIWA’s allegations with factual references and concluded that HURIWA is on a mission to discredit innocent organisations and individuals who have not succumbed to blackmail. The EFCC also indicated that HURIWA is being motivated by ethno-religious and other geo-political biases and sentiments.
A major area of concern in the activities of HURIWA is the continuous attempt to link itself with anti-corruption crusade on the basis of its claims to be working in association with ICPC and having access to petitions submitted to the Commission.
Some members of the human rights advocacy community in Abuja maintain that the ICPC itself should be alert to the use of its name and functions by such group as HURIWA who however are on a blackmailing mission on behalf of some disgruntled elements, including staff and contractors in some parastatals
The HURIWA group, it was noted, focuses less on human rights issues in majority of its press releases which are usually overwhelmingly drafted against officials and parastatals as well as political oppositions to the Buhari administration and some random states in the federation.
The focus of HURIWA media attacks is usually without any consistency or rationale but commonly containing spurious allegations of sleaze bothering on corruption, ethnic and religious sentiments.
As a result of recent developments, members of the human rights community in Abuja are gearing up to senitize the rank and file of the human rights advocacy group by promoting the cause of stiffer regulation and control of registration and operation of groups to prevent infiltration of quacks and blackmailers.
Similarly, anti-corruption agencies, especially ICPC should distance itself from activities of HURIWA by taking a cue from the EFCC, so that the claims of any linkage or access to petitions submitted to ICPC against innocent public officers and parastatals on behalf of ethno-religious and political opposition interest groups will be authoritatively dismissed.
– Mahmoud is a member of human rights community based in Abuja