By Adedapo Adesanya
The coalition of 32 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working to promote democracy and human rights has expressed grave concerns over the rise in the level of attacks targeted at human rights activists in the country.
The groups include: Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria; Partners for Electoral Reform; and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Others are Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED); Centre for Information, Technology and Development (CITAD); Yiaga Africa; and Global Rights Project Alert among others.
The group in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja said that the attacks on activists and pro-democracy campaigners have increased since the start of the #EndSARS protests.
“Escalation of threats against human rights activists is putting Nigeria in the negative global spotlight.
“This is in spite of the local and global condemnations which have trailed the death of protesters as a result of extrajudicial killings by security forces and the activities of sponsored non-state elements.
“It is worrisome that there has been no remorse on the part of those perpetrating these atrocities.
This Coalition is aware that the Nigerian authorities have stepped up measures to clamp down on individuals, organisations and corporate bodies alleged to be the masterminds of the protests,” the group said.
According to the coalition, for the avoidance of doubt, the #EndSARS protests, which gripped the country in the last few weeks, focused on the legitimate demands of the Nigerian youth.
Thus, it was for an end to police brutality and other dimensions of human rights abuses.
The alliance urged the government to focus attention squarely on the necessary administrative reforms to meet the short and long term demands of the protesters.
It also expressed concerns about the government’s inaction in responding to the direct threats issued against human rights organisations by non-state elements with pro-government objectives.
“This coalition has documented several patently illegal steps taken by the government, which clearly infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens.
“Increasingly, protest organisers are being intimidated and coerced by various state institutions.
“There have also been situations in which travel bans, which have no basis in the rule of law, have been slammed on individuals for their alleged roles in the #EndSARS protests,” the statement noted.
The organisation condemned the resort to acts of intimidation, profiling and coercion of citizens who it alleged had committed no offence, saying that the government’s action constitutes a serious attack on freedom of expression, which is a constitutionally guaranteed right of every Nigerian citizen.
“Specifically, Section 39(1) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended makes it clear that every person “shall be entitled to freedom of expression’’ among others.
“The group said that the peaceful protests staged in recent weeks provided an opportunity for the young people of Nigeria to air their views and express their opinions about the state of the country,” it said.
The CSOs said that the government’ acts of clamping down on those who participated in or mobilised for the protests amounted to a brazen violation of citizen’s fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
The association condemned acts of targeting the bank accounts of individuals who were alleged to be financing the protests without any exhaustive recourse to the judicial process.
The group said the reliance on ex parte applications to freeze accounts of citizens was antithetical to the principle of fair hearing and proper judicial oversight.
According to the organisation, these underhand tactics run contrary to the principles of natural justice which aver that an entity cannot be the judge in its own case.
“This coalition for the umpteenth time calls on the international community to take urgent measures to pressure the Nigerian authorities to act in accordance with the rule of law by halting the ongoing unconstitutional assault on citizens’ rights,” it stated.
COVID-19: Jesus Christ Would Have Supported Vaccination—APC Group
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A group known as the APC Mandate Defenders has slammed Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Mr Paul Enenche, for criticising the federal government for directing federal civil servants to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by December 2021.
The cleric had described this directive as one from the pit of hell, while the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Mr Monday Ubani, threatened to sue the federal government if this was enforced.
But in a statement issued on Saturday, the APC group said the central idea behind the vaccination was to save lives, stressing that Jesus Christ would have done the same if he were to be alive in this generation, saying compulsory vaccination is not from the pit of hell.
In the statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the organisation, Mr Ifeanyi Emeka, it said it was very proud of Mr Enenche for leading the Christian folks back to God especially the several charitable works and donations made during the lockdowns but then, the pastor ought to have known that COVID-19 was still constantly looking for who to kill on daily basis.
“However, we are praying that God will further open the spiritual eyes of pastor Enenche and other men of God opposed to compulsory vaccination so that they can see how deadly the virus is and probably recommit themselves to the ongoing battle against the virus,” it stated.
APC Mandate Defenders used the opportunity to condemn Mr Ubani for threatening to sue the FG, noting that the virus is a biological war waged against humanity that requires the deployment of all weapons to win the battle, emphasising that the lawyer ought to have known that in war all is fair.
“Since the law is made for man and not man for the law, compulsory vaccination for civil servants is one of the fundamental ways of flattening the curve,” it said.
“Accordingly, Dr Ubani and others opposed to compulsory vaccination should note that civil servants do travel to other countries for training and other essential assignments on behalf of the country and it will not be right if Nigerians are denied access to such countries as a result of their vaccination status or vaccine Passport which is the new normal in the world today.
“As a learned gentleman, Dr Ubani ought to have also known that sometimes, what is right may not be legal and what is legal may not be right.
“Therefore, it is in Nigeria’s national interest that civil servants be forced to take the vaccines for the safety of Nigerians and for the preservation of our corporate existence as members of the inter-connected world.
“We, therefore, advise Nigerians to take the vaccines and join the battle to flatten the curve in the country,” the statement noted.
UN to Cut Food Rations in North-East Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
*Internally Displaced Persons Hit 2 million in September
The United Nations through its World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it may soon be forced to cut food rations to more than half a million women, men and children in north-eastern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Mr Chris Nikoi, in a statement over the weekend, explaining that there was a need for urgent funding to continue life-saving operations in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
The WFP director stated that the cuts would come just as severe hunger reached a five-year high in the country, in the wake of years of conflict and insecurity, noting that the situation had been worsened by the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply.
“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” the director stated.
Mr Nikoi warned that if at least $55 million was not received in a matter of weeks, WFP would have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it serves, where assistance is already prioritised for the most vulnerable as early as November.
“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. “We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Mr Nikoi added.
He said that the number of Internally Displaced People (IDP) forced to flee their homes in search of safety in northeast Nigeria had been rising steadily, reaching a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021.
The WFP director said that current food security analyses showed that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria did not know where their next meal would come from, and over 1 million children are already malnourished.
He cited continued attacks on communities by non-state armed groups, harsh lean season conditions amid an economy dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19, as portending great danger for the people.
Mr Nikoi added that high food prices and a severe reduction in household purchasing power had also contributed to a bleak outlook for the most vulnerable people in northeast Nigeria, warning that despite increasing needs, WFP may soon be unable to sustain life-saving operations in the conflict-riddled north-east.
Land Grabbing: Group Tells Lagos to Obey Supreme Court Judgement
By Mohammed Kerimu
Members of the Shangisha/Magodo Landlord Association of Nigeria have advised the Lagos State Government to obey and execute the judgement of the supreme court ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land them.
This call was made on Friday at a press conference organised by the group, where the Chairman of the association, Mr Adebayo Adeyiga, addressed newsmen in Lagos.
The group appealed to the state government to complement the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari by executing the court order and not to continue to show attitudes suggesting that the state is operating a different constitution other than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which President Buhari and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swore to defend.
The body emphasised that as long as Lagos State was still part of the Nigerian federation, it must operate within the context of the law because the state itself is a creation of the Nigerian Constitution.
The group wondered why Lagos State Government that is among the states clamouring for the implementation of a court decision on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) even when the matter is still in the court could turn a blind eye to the execution of the supreme court judgement ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land to members of the group.
It will be recalled that about 37 years ago, the Lagos State Government collected Shangisha/Magodo land belonging to members of the association under the guise that it will use it for the construction of an international standard hospital; relying on the over-riding public interest classification of the Land Use Act of Nigeria.
Accordingly, the state evicted the landlords and pulled down their houses and other immovable properties in the area but to the surprise of everyone, the then administration, instead of using the land for its intended purpose, allegedly converted the land to personal properties; allocating plots to their family members, friends and cronies despite the excruciating pains the original owners were subjected to.
Angered by such development, members of the association initiated several court actions up to the apex court before the supreme court finally ruled that the land should be returned to its original owners since the intended objective was not achieved.
However, the state government paid deaf ears to the judgement behaving as if Lagos State was above the law of Nigeria.
The group, therefore, called on President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami to prevail on Lagos State government to execute the judgement of the apex court, saying justice is distorted when the victim pays for the conducts of the accused.
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