By Gabriel Ewepu and Alice Ekpang – Abuja
Following the recent turn in the #EndSARS protest, 32 CSOs on Tuesday accused the government of oppression, human rights abuse and intimidation of #EndSARS promoters and activists.
This was contained in a statement signed by leaders of 32 CSOs including; Center for Democracy and Development (CDD); Enough Enough (EIE) Nigeria; Partners for Electoral Reform; Center for Legislative Defense of Civil Society (CISLAC); Resource Center for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED); Information, Technology and Development Center (CITAD); Yiaga Africa; Global Rights; Project alert; Women Defenders Research and Documentation Center (WARDC); Paradigm Initiative (PIN); Center for the Rule of Law and Accountability (RULAAC).
Others are the HEDA Resource Center; African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL); Community Life Project (CLP); Protest to power; Social action; Right to know; Lawyers alert; Center for Public and Private Development; South Sahara Social Development Organization; West Africa-Nigeria Partners; LSD Center; Connected Development (CODE); Stakeholder Development Network (SDN); BUDGiT; CWCW Africa; j. Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center in Africa (PAACA); Invictus Africa; Action for the Rehabilitation and Welfare of Prisoners (PRAWA); Human Rights Resource Center (CHRICED); and restart the layout.
The government is stepping up measures to crack down on the individuals, organizations and corporate entities that are allegedly the masterminds of the protests.
The statement reads in part: “Increasingly, protest organizers are being intimidated and coerced by various state institutions. There have also been situations where travel bans, which are not based on the rule of law, have been criticized for their alleged roles in the #EndSARS protests. “
The statement also noted that the government has shifted its focus from addressing the demands of #EndSARS protesters by going after rights activists, pro-democracy activists and other voices calling for systemic reforms.
“This Coalition is of the view that the #EndSARS protests, which gripped the country in recent weeks, focused on the legitimate demands of Nigerian youth to end police brutality and other dimensions of human rights abuses.
“Unfortunately, instead of focusing directly on the administrative reforms necessary to meet the short- and long-term demands of the protesters, the authorities have begun to resort to covert tactics to coerce and repress rights activists, pro-democracy activists and other dissenting voices calling for systemic reforms that promote good governance, ”he said.
According to the statement, despite local and global condemnations, which have followed the deaths of protesters as a result of extrajudicial killings by security forces and the activities of sponsored non-state elements, it is worrying that there has been no remorse on the part of those. perpetrate these atrocities.
CSOs in the statement claimed to have documented several obviously illegal measures taken by the government, which clearly violate the fundamental rights of citizens, and which strongly condemn the choice of acts of intimidation, profiling and coercion of citizens who have done no wrong. by the government.
“We have no doubt that the government’s actions constitute a serious attack on freedom of expression, which is a constitutionally guaranteed right of every Nigerian citizen.
“Specifically, Article 39 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, clarifies that everyone” shall have the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, “the statement reads.
They argued that the government’s action to repress those who participated or mobilized for the protests is a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens.
“We are not mistaken about the fact that the peaceful protests organized in recent weeks provided an opportunity for young people in Nigeria to express their views and express their opinions on the state of the country,” the statement added.
Accusing the government of diversionary tactics by targeting the bank accounts of people who are allegedly funding the protests is unacceptable, which the coalition described as measures used by the government as unethical for the principle of fair hearing and adequate judicial oversight.
“It is equally unacceptable that the Nigerian authorities have also resorted to diversionary tactics, such as targeting the bank accounts of people who are allegedly funding the protests.
“It is recorded that most of these punitive measures by the government are being applied without any exhaustive recourse to the judicial process. The reliance on ex parte requests to freeze citizens’ accounts is antithetical to the principle of fair hearing and adequate judicial oversight.
The Coalition noted that the majority of cases brought by the government against citizens indicate the government’s interest in them.
“It is unethical that the government is simultaneously assuming the roles of accuser, accuser and judge in these cases, these covert tactics are contrary to the principles of natural justice, which affirm that an entity cannot be a judge in its own case”, he pointed.
The Coalition has called on Nigerians to prepare for the struggles that lie ahead, as the people of this country cannot afford to stand still and stare in the face of unconstitutional measures to silence their voices and infringe on their rights as citizens.
Meanwhile, the group called on the international community to take the necessary measures against the Nigerian authorities to act accordingly.
“This Coalition calls for the umpteenth time on the international community to adopt urgent measures to pressure the Nigerian authorities to act from now on in accordance with the rule of law and stop the current unconstitutional attack on the rights of citizens,” he concluded the notice.