Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), tuesday called on the National Assembly to pass a law criminalising political blackmail in the country, prescribing a seven-year jail term for offenders.
It lamented that certain career political blackmailers have cashed in on the ongoing anti-corruption crusade to be attacking individuals.
The Coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko, made the call at a press conference in Abuja.
He lamented that some politically motivated group of individuals had s last Monday commenced frantic search for credible platforms in the nation’s capital to hire to tarnish the image of former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The rights group said the ongoing mass demonisation and character assassination of some members of the political class whose political tenures in various offices have remained untainted has created the erroneous impression that all political office holders in Nigeria are corrupt.
According to him, “We were approached by some professional political blackmailers from Delta State to make our organisation available to be used as a weapon of mass politically motivated battle against the person and character of the former governor of Delta State but we declined.
Onwubiko added: “It has become imperative for it to go public with this information so Nigerians would be made aware of the existence of many phantom groups whose major preoccupation is to stoke the embers of hatred against targeted high profile Nigerians just because such persons may not have agreed to be blackmailed into paying huge pay outs to such professional and career blackmailers.
“These evil intentioned Nigerians are exploiting the notorious fact that corruption as a major factor that contributed to the underdevelopment of Nigeria has understandably forced the current government to focus extensively on waging anti-graft war. HURIWA warned against the deployment of crude and illegal process of mass hysteria and choreographed media trial to engage in the ongoing crusade to eradicate corruption and economic crimes.
“We urge officials of EFCC to strive to maintain high professional decorum even as they relentlessly chase after corrupt politicians. EFCC as an agency set up by law must operate within the ambit of principle of rule of law and abide by all constitutional provisions,” he said.
The group decried that the kind of impression that has been created before the world that the country is corrupt is making it difficult for the ailing economy to recover.
Onwubiko said that those championing these campaigns of calumny have ulterior motives to railroad the judiciary into passing thoughtful verdicts against their perceived political opponents whenever the anti-graft agency is arm-twisted to head to court.
He emphasised that the allegation that the former governor stole N800 billion should be backed by evidence rather than false claims.
“The National Assembly should pass a law that will criminalise political blackmailers. I prescribe seven years jail term for offenders.
“It is our conviction that EFCC will not allow blackmailers to push them into embarking on wild goose chase which will cost taxpayers billions of cash that could have been deployed to provide social services and other democracy dividends,” the group noted.