By Aaron Ossai
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has charged the Federal Government to extend its whistle-blower policy in the anti-corruption war to the efforts to arrest the proliferation of arms and consequent incessant killings in various parts of the country.
Ekweremadu, who maintained that the right to life remained the single most important human right, said unless such illicit arms were mopped up, the mass killings and destruction would continue.
This was even as he called for the respect for human rights in the implementation of whistle-blower policy in the war against corruption and proliferation of arms.
He spoke while playing host to a delegation of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, which paid a courtesy call to him in his Office.
Ekweremadu said: “Life has lost meaning in Nigeria and people are killed every day and everywhere in Nigeria and the Senate is very worried about it.
“We just considered the report of the Senate Committee that investigated conflicts in many parts of Nigeria, especially the killings in Southern Kaduna. We asked the Committee to go back and do more work because the matter is such a very serious one.
“I also made it clear that it is important that just as we have addressed the issues of money laundering and corruption with the whistle-blower policy, it is time for us to bring that to bear on the issue of arms proliferation in the country.
“People keep arms all over the place and some people know where they are. It is time that those who know where these arms are should be able to blow the whistle on them so that the security agencies will be able to go after them and ensure that they are seized and destroyed. So long as we have arms all over the place, the killings will continue”, he said.
While commending the Nigerian human rights community, especially HURIWA, for consistently standing up for the rights of Nigerians, the lawmaker said human rights were at the heart of democracy, insisting that all legitimate steps must be taken to preserve them as well as uphold constitutionalism and rule of law.
He however, said that while he remained a proponent of whistle-blower policy, the invasion of people’s privacy without due diligence was completely unacceptable.
He noted that the Constitution guaranteed the protection of the people’s privacy, including their phones, and decried a situation where the courts, especially the magistrates courts, collude with security agencies to invade people’s homes on some spurious warrants, saying such growing culture was “taking Nigeria back to the dark old days because for you to go into people’s houses and search, there must be concrete evidence, due legal process, and not mere speculations”.
The Senator also called on the Nigerian Civil Society community to leverage on the CSOs Desk at the National Assembly to partner with the apex legislative body for good governance of the nation.
In his address, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, extolled the efforts of the Senate to deepening Nigeria’s democracy and defending the separation of powers.
Onwubiko said the recent amendment to the Electoral Act approving electronic voting was a cardinal move that would entrench democracy.
He condemned what he termed as orchestrated attacks on the institution of the National Assembly, noting that attempts to undermine the legislature would not augur well for the nation’s democracy.