CSOs to FG: Allow civil space to flourish

By Chimezie Godfrey

#TrackNigeria–A coalition of 51 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has called on government to respect and allow the flourishing of civil space for meaningful contribution to democratic governance in Nigeria.

They are also demanding the  immediate release of all activists who are in detention for exercising their fundamental rights.

In a statement made available to Newsdiaryonline Tuesday, the coalition said they have observed with great concern the massive violation of the rights of citizens, including the right to protest, concerted attacks of media organizations, press freedom and civil society organizations.

They also expressed concern over the spate of media harassment and intimidation, constant harassment of human rights and anti-corruption civil society organizations, and   the unlawful ban on Protest in the country.

“The Nigerian mass media has become a regular focus of illegal attacks by the security agencies. Unlawful arrest and detention of journalists have become a growing phenomenon, and our great tradition of a free press and freedom of expression is under severe stress.

“The Nigeria state is currently engaged in continuous attacks on human rights and anti-corruption civil society organizations and activists in the country.

“An instance is the unfair attack on Amnesty International Nigeria by some security agencies and unscrupulous agents using hoodlums and miscreants threatening Amnesty International Nigeria to vacate the country.

“Trying to force a legal organization that has all Nigeria citizens to vacate and leave the country without an attempt by security agencies to protect their rights is unacceptable.

“We are gravely concerned over the unlawful statement issued by the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force threatening to prosecute the organizers of the peaceful rallies in Nigeria,” they said.

The group stressed that there are existing provisions of law and judicial authorities recognizing the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to non-violently convene and participate in rallies, demonstration and protest marches.

They added that fundamentally, the provision of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended states that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other person” and that this is sacrosanct and must be protected. 

”We therefore, call for restrained of arbitrary misuse of power against the citizens for a non-violent protest, demonstration to express their views.

“We demand immediate release of all activists who are in detention for exercising their fundamental rights.

“We call on security agencies and government officials to ensure total compliance to the rule of law as provided for in our legal system.

“We also call on government to respect and allow the flourishing of civil space for meaningful contribution to democratic governance in Nigeria,” they said.

They further called on the government to be more accountable and responsive to the citizenry they were elected to serve for good governance.

The statement was endorsed by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT), Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Falana Falana Chambers, among others.

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