From the foremost Civil Rights Advocacy group; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) came a very strong condemnation of the Kaduna and Kano States’ governments for failing to stop the abduction of Christian girls and their forced conversion to Islam by some unscrupulous persons aided by some lawless security forces just as the Rights group said it was unconstitutional and absolutely unlawful for any citizen of Nigeria to be abducted criminally and compelled to change their religious orientations.
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) spoke against the backdrops of a report by the United States of America’s based International Christian Concern (ICC) that seven young Christian girls in Kaduna and Kano were forcefully kidnapped and converted to Islam after been married off against their own Volition.
HURIWA said: ” We are worried to read the report that no fewer than seven Christian women – one of them married – were earlier this year abducted in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina and married off to radical Muslim men and forcibly converted to Islam”. HURIWA learnt that this information is according to persecution.org; the official website of the International Christian Concern (ICC).
HURIWA recalled that the US-based watchdog credited the report to quoting the Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO), claiming that the incidents took place “between March 23rd and April 30th” this year. It quoted HACFO as disclosing that “5 girls were kidnapped in Kaduna State, 1 in Kano State, and the already married lady was taken from Katsina State” even as ICC quoted HACFO as saying in its report: “We are saddened to report to you the battles we have been fighting even amidst the lockdown. The Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) has been working on the following tragic incidences of abduction and forceful Islamization, despite the fact that the lockdown has limited our efforts”.
In a media Statement by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director; Miss Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group said the practice of forcing young girls into marriage and then compelled them to convert from their religion to Islam is a grave violation of the Constitutionally protected Freedoms of Religion and Conscience just as it also violate their fundamental freedoms to Right to the dignity of their human person which are guaranteed in chapter four of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
Section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria entitles every Nigerian to Freedom of thought, conscience and Religion. Every Nigerian citizen and every individual according to section 34 of the Nigerian constitution is entitled to respect for the dignity of their human person and no person SHALL be held in slavery or servitude; and no person SHALL be required to perform forced or compulsory labour”.
HURIWA said the actions of those who perpetrated the illegality of kidnapping and converting seven young Christian girls in Kaduna Kano and Katsina states, and got them married off and converted to Islam is absolutely abhorrent to the dignity of their human person and amounted to a grave crime that must be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the laws against abduction just as the Rights group said the act of forcing young girls into marriages out of their own Volition is an egregious unleashing of gender based violence which must be resisted and the perpetrators arrested, prosecuted and punished by the competent Court of law.
HURIWA has also warned the Katsina, Kano and Kaduna States governments to put an end to this barbaric practice of abducting and marrying off Christian girls to Islamic adherents and firing them to convert because it is a sinister attempt to foist a new identity on those people as against the tenets of the Constitution just as the Rights group said Religion is such a strong bond that if broken illegally and members of a religion compelled to enlist into another religion out of their own Volition, these actions could backfire and snowball into religious conflicts and conflagration.
HURIWA is aware that word “religion,” which comes from the Latin word religare, means “to tie, to bind fast.” This etymology according to reputable scholarly works is favored by many based on its ability to explain the power religion has over people and the communities in which they live. Religion is commonly, but not always, associated with a particular system of faith and worship of a transcendent deity or deities.
In human rights discourse, however, the use of the term “religion” also includes support for the right to non-religious beliefs, such as atheism or agnosticism. In 1993 the Human Rights Committee, an independent body of 18 experts selected through a UN process, described religion or belief as “theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.
“Nigerian State must therefore use lawful means to stop any manifestation of forced conversion because of the adverse effects of such a primitive and unconstitutional compulsion which can elicit equal and opposite reaction and could spark off into violent confrontations”.
HURIWA recalled that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 18 states that: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and Religion. (vii) The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion . . ..
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) states in Article 18: that; Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Relatedly, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the murderous attacks by armed terrorists Fulani herdsmen in Agwa community of Oguta in Imo state in which an elderly farmer was hacked to death by these attackers.
HURIWA citing an eyewitness account, averred that the suspected herdsmen headed straight to the community of the deceased even as residents scampered for safety as the suspected herdsmen unleashed mayhem and caused chaos forcing many residents to be displaced.
In the aftermath of the attack on the “peace loving community of Agwa”, a young man was reportedly seen with severe multiple matchet cut on his head.
HURIWA said: ” We condemn in the strongest possible terms the continuous rampage of the armed Fulani herdsmen around Imo state community of Agwa in Oguta and we strongly ask the citizens of Imo state, the Religious and community leaders, the OHANAEZE and other stakeholders to take the grave threats posed by the marauding armed Fulani herdsmen serious and take concrete steps to protect the South East of Nigeria from ever becoming like parts of North West and North Central whereby armed Fulani herdsmen have unleashed massive scale of horrendous attacks with the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari doing nothing apparently because the armed terrorists are of the same Ethno Religious affiliations.
“The leaders of the South East of Nigeria must stand their ground and never allow their compromised governors to deceive them into inaction which will spell room because the armed terrorists are hell bent on descending on the good people of the South East of Nigeria. These armed terrorists must be resisted by all means”.