The alleged brutalization and physical harassment and torture of the popular Nollywood Actor Mr Chinwetalu Agu over his recent viral photo of him putting on the clothes made from the flag of the defunct Biafra Republic has been described as animalistic, insensitive, irresponsible, irrational, despicable and reprehensible.
Canvassing immediate redress by the military high command, the prominent Civil society and pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said it was illegal to harass, a law-abiding citizen like Mr Chinwetalu Agu who has deployed his monumental creative talents as an actor to mobilize the society and to advocate for an ethically sensitive and humane society, must not be allowed to be swept under the carpets of impunity.
“Where is that valid law within the Federal Republic of Nigeria under constitutional democracy that denies the citizens their choice of apparel? Why is the flag of defunct Biafra if turned into a clothe now made offensive and why is the Nigerian Army seeking to polarize the society and deepen the misperception that the military exercise in the South was meant to subject the citizens to ordeals of gross Human Rights Violations when this is not so?
“We condemn these overzealous tendencies of the military troop that undertook this abysmal and primitive act of humiliating a citizen for putting on his choice clothes when the primary duty of the Army is to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria? In which way has Mr Chinwetalu Agu disrespected any provisions of the law and assuming without conceding that the putting on of apparel displaying the flag of the defunct Biafra Republic is unlawful, are there no human rights and law-based procedure for bringing him to justice without metting out such level of brutality despite his age and his immense contributions to the entertainment industry?”
HURIWA spoke further: “We hereby appealed to the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Yahaya Faruk to arrest and sanction the Soldiers captured on the viral video for harassing and torturing the elder statesman or we urge the victim of this Human Rights violation to seek redress in the Court of law under section 6 of the Constitution”.
Specifically, section 6 states thus: “(1) The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation. (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State. (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record. (4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:- (a) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; (b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.
(5) This section relates to:- (a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; (b) the Court of Appeal; (c) the Federal High Court; (d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (e) a High Court of a State (f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; (h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State; (j) such other courts as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and (k) such other court as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws.
(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section – (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law(b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law.
HURIWA condemned the action of those soldiers because it violates section 42(1) which provides thus: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2)No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth. Section 36. (1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.
Section 35. (1) Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law –
a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;
b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation imposed upon him by law;
c) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence;
d) in the case of a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years for the purpose of his education or welfare; e) in the case of persons suffering from infectious or contagious disease, persons of unsound mind, persons addicted to drugs or alcohol or vagrants, for the purpose of their care or treatment or the protection of the community; or f) for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of any person into Nigeria or of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal from Nigeria of any person or the taking of proceedings relating thereto: Provided that a person who is charged with an offence and who has been detained in lawful custody awaiting trial shall not continue to be kept in such detention for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence.
And Section 34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – a) no person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment; b) no person shall be held in slavery or servitude, and c) no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory labour.”
HURIWA cited news reports that popular Nollywood actor, Chinwetalu Agu, was reportedly brutalized by Nigerian soldiers for wearing an outfit with colours of the Biafran flag.
It was gathered that the incident occurred in the Upper Iweka area of Anambra state.
According to an eyewitness, the Nigerian soldiers had stopped the Nollywood actors, bringing him out of his vehicle for interrogation.
Recall that Chinwetalu Agu had recently rocked the Biafra flag attire in a post on social media.