• Amnesty says govt suppresses rights to freedom of expression
A pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to take concrete measures to ensure the respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry to justify his recent affirmations during his meeting with President Donald Trump of the United States.
This is coming as Amnesty International Nigeria, yesterday, said intimidation and harassment of journalists and bloggers as well as violent crackdowns on peaceful protests showed the determination of government to suppress the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Nigeria.
The National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director of HURIWA, Miss Zainab Yusuf, in Abuja yesterday, faulted the statement by President Buhari that the military respects human rights but tasked the administration to go beyond mere rhetorics and implement concrete remedial processes to right the many wrongs that are going on now.
HURIWA said that from all indications, human rights violations by members of the armed security forces have worsened including arbitrary arrest of citizens, illegal detention, extortions and extralegal executions just as the Rights group challenged the president to reconstitute the governing council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Amnesty International Nigeria, citing a number of cases where journalists and citizens were arrested and intimidated, called on Nigerian authorities to desist from disturbing patterns of using security agencies to silence dissenting voices.
The Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, stated, “This trend of harassment and intimidation has created a climate of fear, whereby journalists are perpetually afraid of being arrested for doing their job. Journalists have a responsibility to the public, not the government and must be allowed to do their job.”
He further said that increasingly across Nigeria, there are reports of people being threatened and often arrested for merely sharing their opinion via social media.
He mentioned the arbitrary arrest of a blogger, Daniel Elombah on January 1, a journalist, Tony Ezimakor on February 28; another journalist, Musa Kirishi on March 13 while Muhammed Kime was arrested in July 2017 in Damaturu, Yobe State for a Facebook post.
Amnesty urged the government to launch a thorough, impartial, independent and transparent investigation into the allegations of violent crackdown on protests and arrests of journalists, bringing those suspected to be responsible to justice.
“Nigeria’s Constitution 1999 (as amended) guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, the government must therefore do more to protect these rights. Freedom to hold opinion without interference and peaceful protest are legitimate rights that no person should be denied. Protests should be seen as a positive sign of the willingness of Nigerians to express themselves,” said Ojigho.