By Francis IWUCHUKWU
Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, have called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN, to with immediate effect put an end to the intimidation and harassment of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, an independent anti-corruption watchdog, and end escalating intimidation and aggression towards human rights defenders and journalists.
The CSOs in a statement jointly issued by them said: We, the undersigned civil society organizations urge the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the intimidation and harassment of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), an independent anti-corruption watchdog, and end escalating intimidation and aggression towards human rights defenders and journalists.
Following SERAP’s public interest cases brought against the Government, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu issued a statement warning the organization to “desist from putting out its divisive, irresponsible, and bare-faced publicity stunts”. According to Mr Shehu, “SERAP should stop the publicity stunt and end the repeated ridiculous claims that it is bringing legal action against the Government and/or President of Nigeria.”
We are seriously concerned that this intimidatory tactic by the government against SERAP solely for peacefully carrying out its mandates illustrates the growing repression of civil society, attacks on journalists, and restriction of civic space in Nigeria.
Continuous and increasing attacks and intimidation against civil society organizations, human rights and journalists in the country is antithetical to Nigeria’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights both of which the country has ratified.
We are concerned that the attack on SERAP is aimed at creating a climate of intimidation against civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and journalists in the country. The targeting of civil society organizations and human rights defenders will have a chilling effect on the promotion and protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law in the country.
The Government must strongly condemn the threats, harassment, and intimidation of SERAP and other groups, human rights defenders and journalists and ensure a conducive environment for them to carry out their work and operate freely without any fear of reprisals.
1. Amnesty International Nigeria
2. Human Rights Watch
3. Adopt A Goal Initiative
4. Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
5. Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)
6. Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre
7. Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria)
8. Femi Falana (SAN)
9. Access to Justice
10. Sterling Centre for Law & Development
11. Justice Support Network
12. Paradigm Initiative
13. Connected Development (CODE)
14. Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA)
15. Justice for Peace and Development Initiative
16. M.H.O.G Foundation
19. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
20. Baobab for Women’s Human Rights
21. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
22. Global Rights
24. Alliances for Africa (AfA)
25. Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF)
26. Centre for Impact Advocacy
27. Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE)
28. Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ)
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