CSO demands probe, trial of electoral offenders
Makes case for shrinking civic space
Spaces for Change (S4C) has called for the prompt investigation and prosecution of all those involved in violation of human rights and the rule of law during the recent general elections.
In a statement by the Legal Officer, Patrick Allam, yesterday, the Lagos-based civil society group expressed concern about the fast shrinking civic space in the country, following astronomical increase in restrictions recorded by the Closing Spaces database during the elections.
The statement reads: “The 2023 elections, like every electoral cycle since 1999, were characterised by incidents of voter suppression, electoral violence and attacks on press freedom, which constitute clear violations of human rights and democracy, as well as indicate a systemic regression of civil rights in the country.
“The tensions have not abated in the days and weeks after the elections. News stations have been slammed with bogus fines for airing political interviews; politicians are fuelling inter-tribal tension, while there have been violent restrictions on access to justice for members of political opposition groups by security forces. In the last few weeks, the Closing Spaces database has documented multiple arrests of journalists and media practitioners. Serious questions have also been raised about how government-led surveillance is rapidly eroding the privacy of citizens.”
The framing of every social, political and ethnic discontent as treasonable felonies especially against opposition groups, the statement added, has surged to alarming levels never seen before.
According to the group, the deployment of spyware by government entities is a major cause for concern.
The Guardian gathered that the organisation has been promoting responsible deployment of spyware and surveillance technologies by governments, while upholding the fundamental human rights of individuals.
Executive Director of S4C, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, noted recent events that sparked widespread apprehension and fear among activists, as the tendency to misuse technology is very high.
She said: “S4C’s study report, Security Playbook on Digital Authoritarianism in Nigeria and the Civic Space in West Africa: Trends, Threats and Futures, anticipated these repressive trends and issued out early warning signals to activists, governments and citizens.
“We urge the Nigerian government to respect and protect the rights of its citizens, including freedom of expression, association and assembly. We call for an end to all forms of violence and intimidation against journalists and media houses, political opposition groups, civil society organisations, and peaceful protesters.
S4C expressed solidarity with Nigerians, fight for their rights and for democracy. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support efforts to promote and protect human rights and democratic values in Nigeria.”