By Adanigho Julius, Warri
The national executive committee of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) has upheld the suspension of Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, the national president of the foremost human rights body in Nigeria.
The suspension of the national president was an affirmation of the suspension slammed on him by the Edo state chapter of the body following alleged misconduct against the constitution of the human rights group.
The letter affirming his suspension reads in part: “Since your own state branch does not recognize you to the extent of suspending you indefinitely, being the supposed president of CDHR, we therefore uphold the indefinite suspension placed on you by your state branch, Edo state.”
Obayuwana is being accused of unilaterally spending and disbursing organisation’s funds without recourse to the national council, hence he is deemed to have violated the constitution of the CDHR.
He is also accused of high handedness which the body said has caused disunity , thereby making the organisation to be on a standstill without making progress and other sundry offenses leveled against him.
In a communique issued at the end of the national emergency council meeting of the body on January 26, 2021, members of NEC upheld the suspension of Obayuwana and passed a vote of confidence on Comrade Kehinde Taiga, vice president of CDHR.
In a letter sent to the national secretariat by the Edo state chapter and obtained by THE NATIONS EXPRESS, the Edo state chapter levelled series of allegations against Obayuwana
The Edo state chapter said Obayuwana conducted an illegal and unconstitutional election in the Edo state branch of the CDHR and appointed someone who has not been a member of the CDHR nor attended any of their meetings as the state chairman of the CDHR in Edo state.
The letter said following the action of the president, the state branch slammed an indefinite suspension on him and it was signed by 19 members of the Edo state branch of the CDHR.
In a call made to the legal adviser of the human rights group, Barrister Mrs. Violet Ekumankama, to explain the position of the CDHR constitution in this regard, she said everything the national executive members did was within the parameters of the CDHR constitution.
She said all the actions took against the suspended president was in line with the constitution, noting that the constitution is the supreme law of the human rights group.
She said the suspended president had singlehandedly suspended the vice president which was upturned by the executive members. She told Emerald News that the national body is waiting for the response of the suspended president
Barrister Ekumankama said as leader of such a national body, Dr. Obayuwana was expected to show good example for others to follow.
General secretary of the CDHR, James Chibuzo Chikwendu, also insisted that all the actions taken by the NEC members was in line with the constitution, hence the constitution should be respected.
He added that out of a total of eight executive members, five attended the meeting where the final decision was taken to uphold his suspension. He told Emerald News that with five members out of eight, the members met a simple majority that could take action.
He said the five members attended the meeting in Abuja on January 26, 2021 and that the national council meeting has been scheduled for February 27 in Rivers State.
But Dr. Osagie Obayuwana would have none of all the executive members have said. He told THE NATIONS EXPRESS through a text message that the purported suspension was the handiwork of a few disgruntled members.
The full text message he sent reads: “Thanks for reaching out to me for my reaction. The purported suspension is the handiwork of a few disgruntled members. My information is that no meeting of CDHR NEC properly so called was held.”
However, he posed some questions before the NEC members thus: “Where is the query that was issued to Obayuwana? Where is the report of the investigation committee? Where are the minutes of the meeting that considered the report? Can NEC ratify what does not exist legally? Who and who attended the so called NEC meeting? Did they form a quorum of NEC?
“The two or three members that gathered did not form a quorum. It was a vain attempt to pre-empt the sanctions that await those who have brought shame to the image of CDHR. The impending National Council Meeting will speak authoritatively on this. Thanks again”.