By Emma Amaize & Innocent Anaba
Leading civil society and human rights organisation in Nigeria, yesterday, condemned the attack on the Abuja office of Amnesty International by a group of protesters and their purported ultimatum to the organisation to leave Nigeria.
The groups, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education, CHRICED, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti- Corruption Crusade, FHRAAC, in their separate statements, also faulted the so-called 24 hour ultimatum purportedly issued by the faceless and unknown groups masquerading as civil society organisations, to Amnesty International to leave the country.
National Coordinator of LEDAP, Mr Chino Obiagwu, in a statement, said: “LEDAP is concerned that such hired protests and unjustifiable ultimatum to such a reputable civil society group that is exercising its right to freedom of expression, is calculated to intimidate the voices of human rights organisation in Nigeria and to shrink the space for civil society.
“LEDAP calls on the Nigerian military to use the reports of civil society groups, including reports by Amnesty International, as tools to improve on its operations, rather than the usual dismissive statements condemning such reports. The facts and figures contained in the Amnesty International’s report have not been disputed or shown not to be correct or concocted.”
SERAP on its part, called on both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to “urgently instruct appropriate authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate apparently sponsored and coordinated attacks against Amnesty International Office in Nigeria and ensure the safety and security of its staff.”
In a statement by its Deputy Director, Mr Timothy Adewale, the organisation called on Buhari and Osinbajo to “act swiftly to end the increasing and apparently sponsored attacks, intimidation, harassment and threats against Amnesty International Office in Nigeria and its staff.”
Any failure to hold to account those who may be responsible will invariably increase the vulnerability of civil society in the country, and strengthen the perception that attacks against NGOs and human rights workers can happen with impunity.”
Also, IPDI and FHRAAC, yesterday, threw their weight behind the Amnesty International, AI, saying invasion of the Abuja office of the world-acclaimed privileges group by some democratic gangsters and demand for it to vacate Nigeria was disquieting and appalling.
The two groups in separate statements by their national presidents, Austin Ozobo and Alaowei Cleric, respectively, said that the protest staged against AI, by some democratic gangsters under the auspices of Global Peace and Rescue Initiative, GOPRI, was uncalled for and designed to entrench absolute lawlessness in the country, and urged the federal government to stop the paid agents from further embarrassing the country.
Similarly, CHRICED, in a statement by Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said “In the light of this development, it is critical to make it clear that in a true democratic system such as Nigeria is aspiring to practice; there is sufficient room for plurality of voices. While it is clear that some citizens may have reservations with the reports of Amnesty International as it relates with the military’s fight against the insurgents in the North East, the proper thing to do is to engage and dispute at the realm of facts, logic and superior reasoning.
For us therefore, the resort to infantile threats, and declarations that a duly accredited human rights organization working in Nigeria should leave the country, gives the impression that the protesting groups are averse to debates and the contest of facts and ideas. CHRICED expects those opposed to what Amnesty International has put out to enrich the discourse by providing their own facts and figures on the real state of things,” he added.