I Challenge Buhari to visit any Nigerian Prison – Nwadioke

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Emeka Nwadioke
Emeka Nwadioke
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I challenge Buhari to visit any Nigerian prison – Nwadioke

A lawyer and civil rights campaigner, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke has dared President Muhammadu Buhari to visit any Nigerian prison, saying the President will shed tears if he ever did so.

Noting the recent concern shown by the president on the condition of the prisons, Nwadioke said the gesture fell short of the expectations of many key stakeholders in the justice sector. “I am aware that Mr. President has not visited any prison since his assumption of office,” the activist-lawyer said. “If he can voice such disappointment merely based on hearsay, let me assure you that he will weep for this country the day he steps into any of our grossly dilapidated prisons.”

In a statement at the weekend to mark his golden jubilee anniversary, Nwadioke, who is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Criminal Justice Reform Committee, decried the sub-human conditions to which prisoners and awaiting trial detainees are subjected, warning that the situation constitutes a “major threat” to national security.

His words: “We are engaged in a pro bono prison decongestion programme driven by PRAWA, the Nigerian Prison Service, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACoN) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The raw anger, bitterness and deep-seated disillusionment that l see in the faces of the awaiting trial detainees and their tales of woes is a ticking time bomb that must be averted through holistic and sustainable prison and justice sector reforms. It calls for commitment at the highest level of government.”

Urging the Federal Government to respect the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, Nwadioke who until recently was the Publicity Secretary of the NBA Lagos Branch, advised the government to revisit the classification of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation. He said: “In making this call, I am reminded of the words of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to the effect that there is a ‘systematic violation’ of the rights of indigenous people’s through arbitrary arrests and ‘labeling of indigenous organisations, leaders and activists as terrorists.’ What is more, the deployment of state apparatus towards this end is a major disservice to Nigeria’s emergent profile as a country of laws than strong men. Entrenching the rule of law is a rigorous process that cannot be sacrificed on the altar of expediency.”

Turning to the crisis of governance that has enveloped the country, the activist-lawyer urged Buhari to “rekindle confidence and patriotism in Nigerians by being a true statesman and the father of all,” adding that Nigerians are more divided today than ever before due to perceived nepotism and marginalization.

“The Maina saga is yet another pointer to the high level of impunity at the corridors of power,” said Nwadioke. “The many unresolved corruption scandals within the government has greatly eroded public confidence in both the president and the government. Efforts must be made to arrest this drift and save the anti-graft war from public odium and contempt.”

A former journalist and advocate for media rights, Nwadioke also berated the government over the recent notice to broadcast stations abridging newspaper reviews “among other fascist directives that signal the advent of full-blown dictatorship,” adding that “This gestapo-style attempt to muzzle free speech and the public’s right to know is calculated to turn Nigeria into a banana republic and pariah state. It must be resisted by all lovers of democracy and freedom. All hands must be on deck to nurture our young democracy and birth the Nigerian Dream.”

Nwadioke urged the NBA to “reinvent itself and rise in defence of the rights and liberties of Nigerians and the rule of law. This is the only way to rekindle faith in the hearts of the masses.”

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