The human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has launched an online public petition “to encourage members of the public “to express concerns about the continuing harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and to call on President Umaru Yar’Adua to exercise his authority to stop further harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mr Ribadu.”
At a media briefing in Lagos on Friday 28 November 2008, SERAP’s Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni stated that “The online petition, at HYPERLINK "http://www.petitiononline.com/he4e6789/petition.html" t "_blank" http://www.PetitionOnline.com/he4e6789/petition.html aims to express public solidarity with one of the anti-corruption heroes of our time, and to put pressure on the Yar’Adua government to genuinely implement its oft-repeated commitment to the rule of law by halting further harassment, threats and attacks against Mr Ribadu. The petition also aims to put pressure on the government to bring to justice suspected perpetrators.”
According to the organization, “continuing harassment, intimidation, threats, and attacks against Mr Ribadu not only negate the rule of law but also amount to a fundamental breach of the country’s international obligations and commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to promote the principles of fairness, responsibility, and to foster a culture of rejection of political and official corruption. Clearly, these fundamental principles cannot be achieved in an environment where a leading anti-corruption campaigner continues to be persecuted. The government’s action sends a wrong message that fighting high level official corruption will have repercussions.”
The petition, titled “SAVE RIBADU CAMPAIGN”, has already been endorsed by many human rights activists and other members of the public. According to the organization, the aim is “to collect 10,000 signatures in a couple of days and to present the petition to President Yar’Adua, the UN, the African Union and the European Union for actions.”
The petitioners said that they “are deeply worried that on Saturday 22 November 2008, Mr Nuru Ribadu was forcefully dragged out of the hall of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies by the security forces during a graduation ceremony.”
“We are also saddened that Mr Ribadu’s arrest and detention is based solely on his human rights and anticorruption campaign while he was the Chairman of EFCC. We consider Mr Ribadu to be a human rights defender and believe his arrest and detention and continuing harassment and threats and attacks against him violate the provisions of the of the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders) adopted by the General Assembly in 1999,” the petitioners further stated.
The petitioners also said that they “are worried that continuing harassment and attacks against Mr Ribadu amount to retaliatory measures, and raise doubts about the willingness of the government of Nigeria to fight corruption and to uphold its good faith obligations to its citizens, including under the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
The petitioners called on President Yar’Adua to “give instructions to the security agents and other agencies of government to stop further arrest, threats, harassment, intimidation and attacks against Mr Ribadu. They also called on “the members of the international community, especially the UN, the African Union, and the European Union to put pressure on the government of Nigeria to stop further threats of arrest, harassment and intimidation against him.”