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CSO urges FG to uphold human freedoms, values

By Innocent Anoruo and Clarkson Voke Eberu
11 December 2019   |   3:40 am
Action Group on Free Civic Space has called on the Federal Government to re-commit to its pledge to the international community and citizens

Vector silhouette of a girl with raised hands and broken chains. Photo: DRHURD

Action Group on Free Civic Space has called on the Federal Government to re-commit to its pledge to the international community and citizens to uphold human freedoms and values.

At an event organised in Lagos yesterday by Spaces for Change (S4C), in commemoration of the World Human Rights Day, the civil society organisation (CSO) noted that the global press freedom index ranked Nigeria 120 out of 180 countries reviewed.

The executive director of S4C, Victoria Ohaeri, said though the civic space in the country was shrinking, there was still space for synergy by stakeholders to reclaim human freedoms.

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on December 10. The date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s adoption and proclamation of 1948.

Citing the controversial National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019, known as social media bill, Ohaeri argued that everything in the bill had been taken care of by existing laws.

Meanwhile, Senior Pastor of Father’s House Bible Church, Dr. Richmond Leigh, has urged the government to address the insecurity in the country, stating that the essence of governance was the protection of lives and properties.

During a press conference in Lagos to usher in the ministry’s epic drama of over 200 cast to re-enact the birth of Jesus Christ that began yesterday, the cleric condemned the “constant bashing of the Church of God.”

“There seems to be a national consensus to destroy the church with the rumours constantly circulating that the church and pastors are fake, but that does not remove the word of God.

“Despite what they are saying through referendum or consensus that Christianity is fake among another slating, there is a warning to all Nigerians that there is a grand deception going on in the country, that people would drag the name of the Lord in the mud with impunity,” Leigh added.

He stated that insecurity was “flourishing” because government had allegedly “failed to embark on vulnerability assessment to check areas of possible threats to the people.

The cleric, who pointed out that Nigerians were apprehensive over the problem, added that adequate security arrangements had been made for the staging of the play entitled, ‘The Nativity’ in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

He said the interdenominational programme would also have a praise and worship concert tagged ‘Jesus Mega Party’.

Still on the Human Rights Day, considering the huge wage bill on the country’s neck, Ohaeri said that establishing another commission would add to the country’s debt profile and recurrent expenditure by creating more redundant federal employees.

Stakeholders at the event from the civil society alleged that the Department of State Services (DSS) was established to muffle opposition voices, not minding the universal freedoms of speech and expression.

The participants agreed that the country was in dire straits in view of press freedom.

“Anybody that feels that we are okay is probably not okay,” Ohaeri quipped, urging the media to form a synergy to challenge obnoxious policies of the government, especially those that touch on fundamental human rights.