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CSOs flay government over harassment of media, protesters

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have decried the Federal Government over the country’s shrinking civil space, accusing it of totalitarian tendencies against the people.

In a statement jointly issued by 51 CSOs in Akure yesterday by Media Officer of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Onyekachi Eke, the groups stressed that harassment and intimidation of media outfits and peaceful protesters was unacceptable.

The organisations are, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA), CISLAC, CLEEN Foundation and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), among many others.

They expressed disappointment at the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to address the many challenges facing the country, abuse of power and contempt for the rule of law.

“Nigerians believed that the administration, which received the people’s mandate for another four-year term would reciprocate their goodwill and trust, as well as commit to expanding the civil space and facilitating citizen’s engagement in a liberal democratic space.

“We have observed with great concern and indeed, alarm, massive violation of citizens rights, including the right to protest, sustained attacks on media organisations, press freedom and repression of civil groups.

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

They also condemned constant harassment of human rights and anti-corruption civil organisations, insisting that government has continuously attacked human rights activists, anti-corruption civil organisations and protesters in the country.

“An instance is the attack on Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria by some security agencies and other unscrupulous agents using hoodlums and miscreants to threaten AI to vacate the country.

“Trying to force a legal organisation to leave the country without an attempt by security agencies to protect their rights is unacceptable,” the statement added.

The CSOs also expressed concerns over the unlawful ban on protests by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and threats to prosecute the organisers of peaceful rallies across the nation.


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