Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a Non-Governmental Organisation, on Monday, carpeted the Federal Government for the recent reported gift of a whooping sum of $500,000 to the military regime in Myanmar (former Burma). The group demanded an immediate explanation from the President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to Nigerians and the sack of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ojo Maduekwe, for what it called total breach of several pro-democracy sections of the 1999 Constitution, including Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives enshrined in section 19 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Specifically, a national daily quoting a reliable United Nations-affiliated news journal recently reported that Nigeria, through her permanent representative to the United Nations, Professor Joy Ogwu, had on December 23, 2008, handed over in cash the handsome sum of $500,000 to the Myanmar’s military government’s representative for the purposes of what the Nigeria’s envoy calls ‘our support for the relief effort following the May 2008 Cyclone Nargis’. The newpaper report has it that an order from Abuja had directed the Nigeria’s envoy to the United Nations not to pass the fund through the normal UN’s International Disaster Relief Assistance Fund established for the provision of relief materials to the victims of the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar but to pass it in hard currency directly to the Myanmar’s military government’s envoy to the UN. This process has been widely criticised in the United Nations cycle because it is in breach of the universally acceptable standard of transparency and accountability on the part of the receiving regime especially when feedback is not required.
HURIWA, in a media release endorsed and made available to journalists by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, upbraided the Federal Government of Nigeria for on one hand condenming the recent military junta that illegally took over power in the West African Nation of Guinea Conakry while at the same time funding the World’s most dreaded military dictatorships led by General Thian Shwe in Myanmar which is guilty of grave human rights violations of the civil political rights of her citizens.
The Rights Group demanded apology from the President of the Federal Republic for this show of total disrespect for the democratic disposition of Nigerian citizens and for violating the Nigerian constitution which frowns against offering any form of support to any military regimes in any part of the world because the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognises Democracy as the best and most acceptable form of government in compliance with sections 1 and 2 of the 1999 Constitution.
Faulting the decision of the Federal Government to directly hand over hard currency of that collossal sum to a representative of a military junta reputed for being one of the world’s most oppressive and repressive regimes in the world, the Rights Group stated that the approach adopted by the Nigerian government has sent wrong signals to the international community that Nigeria is not committed to the promotion of world peace and the growth of democracy around the globe.
HURIWA noted the foreign policy objectives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which harps on the need for the government to associate itself with international measures that are aimed at the promotion of international cooperation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and the elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations as enshrined in section 19 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria. The group asserted that the donation of hard currency directly to the Myanmar’s regime that is not accountable and transparent to its citizenry is a direct way of offering active support for the sustenance of totalitarianism in that country just as it called on the Federal Government to dismiss the Foreign Minister for his role in this unfortunate foreign policy blunder. HURIWA called on all organised civil society groups in the country to demand an explanation from the president and to actively seek the removal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his show of incompetence and double speak.