The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on President Bola Tinubu to suspend and investigate the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Mr. Khalil Suleiman Halilu, over allegations of using armed policemen to harass and intimidate two Abuja-based businesswomen.
In a statement issued on Friday, HURIWA said it was appalled by the reports of unlawful invasion, destruction of property, and intimidation by Halilu and his men at Mambaah Cafe| Creative Hub, Maitama, Abuja, owned by Mrs. Zainab Akwanga and Mrs. Vivian Adzume Habila.
According to HURIWA, the two women had petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, accusing Halilu of resorting to brute force and intimidation to settle a contractual dispute with them. The petition, dated 29 September, 2023, and signed by their counsel M. O. Abdulmalik of Chesslaw Consult law firm, Abuja, detailed how Halilu and his men violently invaded the cafe on 21 September, 2023, at about 7am, causing extensive damage and financial losses.
The petition also alleged that Halilu had planted incriminating items around the cafe and invited security agencies to arrest some members of staff of the cafe. The petitioners urged the IG to order a comprehensive inquiry into the matter and ensure the safety and protection of their clients, their businesses, and staff from further harm or intimidation.
HURIWA said it was shocked that Halilu, who was appointed as NASENI boss on 3 September, 2023, after President Tinubu fired Bashir Gwandu, could abuse his power and position to oppress and violate the rights of innocent citizens. The group said such actions were unacceptable and incompatible with the principles of democracy and rule of law.
The civil rights group also said it was imperative for President Tinubu to suspend Halilu from his office pending the outcome of an independent and transparent investigation into the allegations against him. The group said Halilu should be held accountable for his actions and face the full wrath of the law if found guilty.
HURIWA also called on the IG to ensure that justice is done in the case and that the perpetrators are brought to book. The group said it would monitor the situation closely and take appropriate legal actions if necessary.
The group said it stands in solidarity with Mrs. Akwanga and Mrs. Habila and commends them for their courage and resilience in the face of intimidation and harassment. The group said it would continue to support and defend the rights of all Nigerians against any form of oppression or injustice.
October 13, 2023
National Coordinator- Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA