The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has condemned the Lagos State government and political authorities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for strictly enforcing some policies, it said, are aimed at stifling the economic activities of the poorest majority of their citizenry.
This was as the civil society organisation handed a 48-hour ultimatum for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to abrogate the recently introduced “obnoxious” law that criminalises street trading or face a legal battle.
HURIWA, in a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, “specifically listed the various policies in operation in the political and commercial capitals of Nigeria which outlaws street trading as some of the most draconian, unconstitutional, Un-African and Uncharitable actions that are not only anti-poor but targeted at the further economic enslavement of the poorest of the poor.”
The Rights group disclosed that it has commenced consultations with like-minded stakeholders with a view to appealing to credible legal practitioners to head to Court this week to challenge this evil legislation by the Lagos State government targeted at driving millions of poor Nigerians to their early grave through mass hunger which the anti street trading law will instigate.
HURIWA said “it was a shame that self acclaimed human rights activists and lawyers affiliated to the Lagos State Government have maintained ‘graveside’ silence whilst their political friends in the All Progressives Congress administration in Lagos State imposed this draconian law.”
It stated that in an event that the matter against the Lagos State government could not be filed this week, “it will begin the mobilization of Nigerians using the social media to stage mass action against Governor Ambode and his anti poor policy.”
HURIWA condemned “the Lagos State government and the FCT environmental enforcement authority for pursuing these evil policies which goes contrary to the clear provision of the Nigerian Constitution as enshrined in Section 14 (1) (2); Section 15(2) (a)(b) (c) and (d);
“(14)(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principle of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that (a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.”
The Rights group said these unfair and anti -poor policies are targeted at concentrating wealth only in the hands of the rich which is absolutely unlawful.
HURIWA said “it was an act of pure evil of the most outrageous dimension for political authorities to enact legislations which will drive away the largest majority of the struggling masses out of their self created jobs even when these same governments have failed spectacularly to provide the needed infrastructures such as affordable shopping outlets in strategic parts of Lagos and Abuja for these low income earners and traders to embark on decent economic ventures.
“We watch in absolute shock and trepidation as brutes in police and military uniforms arrest hundreds of poor street hawkers in the streets of Abuja and subject them to severe dehumanizing treatments such as public flogging and the forceful capture and confiscation of their only sources of livelihood even as hundreds of these unfortunate persons who can’t bribe their way out are left to rot in police detention centers.”
“The Lagos State governor has just gone on air (TV.C) this morning to announce that the laws on street trading in Lagos will be strictly enforced from today, July 1st 2016. Both buyer and seller are equally guilty and the penalty is N90, 000 or 6 months in prison or both,” the statement noted, adding that “this is the most brutal anti poor policy to have churned out any where in the World in this 21st century global community.”