Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
Thirty three civil society organisations yesterday called on the federal government to stop intimidating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the country.
A statement signed by the organisations cited the recent attacks on Amensty International and UNICEF.
They stated that as stakeholders in the human rights community in Nigeria, they were concerned about the incessant attacks and criticisms of human rights and humanitarian organisations by the federal government and its security agencies, particularly, the Nigerian military and other security services.
The statement read: “The latest of such attacks has been the announcement of the ban of UNICEF, later rescinded and the call to close the Nigerian Office of Amnesty International Nigeria, which has become a regular object of attack by the Nigerian military and security services for doing its work of exposing human rights violations.
“We totally condemn threats and intimidation of UNICEF and Amnesty International Nigeria by the Nigerian military and security services, especially as even the Presidency has joined in the fray. That these threats are always issued against Amnesty International Nigeria whenever it issues a report detailing credible allegations of human rights violations in Nigeria shows that the attacks are aimed at gagging the organization, undermining credible human rights reporting and covering up systemic violations of human rights.
“What is curious is that all the threats and accusations against Amnesty International Nigeria by the Nigerian military and security services have consistently failed to present any empirical evidence that contradicts the reports issued. It is clear to all objective observers that Amnesty International Nigeria is doing a great job of documenting human rights violations in Nigeria and seeking to bring human rights violators to justice. The Nigerian military and security services should prioritize protecting Nigeria and Nigerians instead of throwing laughable accusations at international organisations providing vital lifesaving services to Nigerians.”
They advised government to see the work of Amnesty International Nigeria as a guide to initiate investigation of allegations of human rights violations.
“Throwing denials at allegations of human rights violations raised by Amnesty International Nigeria and other human rights and humanitarian agencies only puts the Nigerian military and security services into global ridicule”, they added.