Nigeria

 

  • Age qualifications to hold political office: a civil society experience from Nigeria

    Open contribution by Henry Udemeh, Grassroots Development Support and Rural Enlightenment Initiative (GDEV), Nigeria

     

  • CIVICUS UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on eight countries to the UN Human Rights Council in advance of the 31st UPR session (November 2018). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the second UPR cycle over 4-years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

    Countries examined: Chad, China, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Senegal

    Chad EN or FR -CIVICUS and Réseau Des Défenseurs Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) examine ongoing attacks on and intimidation, harassment and judicial persecution of HRDs, leaders of citizen movements and CSO representatives. We further discuss restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and association in Chad including through lengthy bans and violent repression of protests and the targeting of unions which protest against austerity measures or the reduction of salaries for workers.

    China - CIVICUS and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) outline serious concerns related to the escalation of repression against human rights defenders, particularly since 2015, which Chinese activists described as one of the worst years in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful activism. The submission also describes unlawful restrictions on the freedom of association, including through the Charity Law and the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations. CIVICUS and AHRC call on the government of China to immediately release all HRDs arrested as part of the “709 crackdown” and repeal all laws restricting civic space in China.

    Jordan -CIVICUS, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and Phenix Center highlight the lack of implementation of recommendations on the right to freedom of association. Current legislation governing the formation and operation of civil society organisations (CSOs), including trade unions, imposes severe restrictions on the establishment and operation of CSOs. We are also concerned by the restrictive legal framework that regulates the right to freedom of expression and the authorities’ routine use of these laws to silent critical voices.

    Malaysia - CIVICUS and Pusat KOMAS highlight a range of restrictive laws used to constrain freedom of association and to investigate and prosecute government critics and peaceful protesters, in their exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We also raise concerns about the harassment of and threats against HRDs as well as the increasing use of arbitrary travel bans by the government to deter their freedom of movement.

    Mexico (ES) - CIVICUS and the Front for the Freedom of Expression and Social Protest (Frente por la Libertad de Expresión y la Protesta Social - FLEPS) address concerns regarding the threats, attacks and extrajudicial killings of HRDs and journalists for undertaking their legitimate work. The submission further examines the multiple ways in which dissent is stifled through stigmatisation, criminalisation and violent suppression of social protests and restrictions on freedom of expression and independent media.

    Nigeria - CIVICUS and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNGO) examine the difficult operating environment for journalists who are routinely harassed, beaten and sometime killed for carrying out their journalistic work. CIVICUS and the NNGO are concerned by the actions of some officers of the Department of State Services who are at the forefront of persecuting human rights defenders.

    Saudi Arabia - CIVICUS, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) address Saudi Arabia’s continued targeting and criminalization of civil society and human rights activists, particularly under the auspices of its counter-terror laws, which severely undermine the freedoms of association, expression and assembly.

    Senegal - CIVICUS and the Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COSEDDH) document a number of violations of the freedom of expression and restrictions on media outlets. In particular we discuss the continued criminalisation of press offences in the new Press Code, including criminal defamation, among other restrictive provisions. Since its last UPR examination, implementation gaps were found with regard to the rights to the freedom of expression and issues relating to the freedom of peaceful assembly.

     

  • Civil Society “Contested and Under Pressure”, says new report

    Read this press release in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish

    Civil society around the globe is “contested and under pressure” according to a 22-country research findings report released by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). The report, Contested and Under Pressure: A Snapshot of the Enabling Environment of Civil Society in 22 Countries, brings together insights from Enabling Environment National Assessments (EENA) conducted around the world between 2013 and 2016.

     

  • Colaboración, el recurso clave para detener la MGF en 5 comunidades en Nigeria

    Este artículo es parte de la serie #HistoriasDeResiliencia, coordinada por CIVICUS para destacar los esfuerzos de grupos y activistas que promueven mejores prácticas de financiación y movilización de recursos valiosos para la sociedad civil.

    Director

    En este blog, Dolapo Olaniyan, directora de The UnCUT Initiative, comparte por qué la colaboración podría ser el “el nuevo recurso económico” para las organizaciones de la sociedad civil que se enfrentan a barreras de financiación.    

     

  • Collaboration as currency, key to stop FGM in 5 communities in Nigeria

    FRENCH

    This article is part of the #StoriesOfResilience series, coordinated by CIVICUS to feature groups and activists on their journey to promote better resourcing practices for civil society and to mobilise meaningful resources to sustain their work.

    Director

    Today, Dolapo Olaniyan, Director of The UnCUT Initiative, shares why collaboration could be the new currency for civil society organisations that are facing funding constraints.

    Last February, five communities in Asa village, located in the Osun state, South West Nigeria, unanimously and publicly agreed to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – a harmful, cruel and extremely discriminatory practice recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, but that is still common in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This is a big victory in a country where FGM affects 25% women (aged 15-49). It was also a victory for us at The UnCUT Initiative, an organisation focused on ending female genital mutilation across high risk communities in Nigeria by 2030, as the public “abandonment ceremony” was the culmination of work started in October 2018.

     

  • Consolidating democracy in Nigeria: the need to promote electoral integrity

    Open submission by Okezie Kelechukwu, Executive Director, Neighbourhood Environment Watch (NEW) Foundation,

     

  • CSW66: ‘UN member states should make efforts to honour their commitments at home’

    Eucharia AbuaCIVICUS speaks about women’s rights and the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with Eucharia Abua, Senior Programme Officer on Gender and Reproductive Justice at African Girls Empowerment Network (AGE Network).

    Founded in 2015, AGE Network is a young feminist civil society organisation (CSO) committed to advancing gender equality in girls’ education and promoting young women’s bodily and economic rights and leadership in Nigeria. It works to end child marriage and keep girls in school, and provides support to rape survivors, teenage mothers, victims of domestic violence and female genital mutilation, LGBTQI+ women, sex workers, women and girl refugees from Cameroon, internally displaced women and girls, and other economically disadvantaged and vulnerable women and girls.

    What do you see as the main women’s rights issues in Nigeria, and how does AGE Network work to address them?

    One of the main issues is women’s right to pregnancy by choice. In Nigeria, there’s an imbalance in the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and adolescent girls. This is evident in the country’s discriminatory abortion law, which only allows medical abortion under certain circumstances. This strict law, alongside shame, social stigma and a lack of access to timely and non-judgemental information about safe, self-managed medical abortion and legal support, steers young women towards unsafe abortions.

    Many young women with unintended pregnancies, particularly those in vulnerable settings and displaced communities who are pregnant as a result of sexual violence, rape or incest, and those with critical medical conditions who cannot carry a pregnancy to term, seek unsafe abortions from quack doctors in hideouts and become vulnerable to irreparable harm or death. This has contributed to the current maternal mortality ratio of 512 per 100,000 live births, according to a 2020 report by the Federal Ministry of Health.

    To address this situation, AGE launched the #BellebyChoice campaign, an initiative to advance women’s and girls’ bodily rights and autonomy by securing their rights to pregnancy by choice, not by chance. The campaign seeks to curb unintended pregnancies by improving access to and uptake of family planning and modern contraception and end unsafe abortions through the provision of timely and non-judgemental information and legal support so that women can access safe and self-managed medical abortions. We have a dedicated hotline and use local and pidgin languages to address communication barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services among women and adolescent girls.

    Additionally, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, AGE has stood in solidarity with vulnerable young women, including female sex workers, and has helped them access timely sexual and reproductive health services. We partnered with Women First Digital and incorporated their AllyChatBot for safe abortion via WhatsApp into our campaign. So far they have supported our efforts to end abortion stigma and help young women access non-judgemental sexual and reproductive health information and care through their mobile phones.

    In the face of COVID-19, we have also advocated with the Nigerian government to relax the discriminatory abortion law. We have campaigned and engaged with key stakeholders to call on the government to set aside laws and policies that restrict access to safe abortion and allow the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortions in line with the guidelines put forward by the World Health Organization.

    Why do you think the Nigerian government is not sufficiently responsive to women’s rights demands? 

    Here is where another major women’s rights issue comes in: there’s a great imbalance in female representation and too many obstacles prevent women from having effective political participation. Inclusive governance is still a pending issue in Nigeria, and it continues to face strong resistance. For instance, just this March, Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives rejected proposed bills to grant additional legislative seats to women and other forms of affirmative action.

    This is also apparent in the area of climate justice and environmental protection: rural women form the majority among farmers, but they have not been fully integrated or carried along in the process to develop the national climate change mitigation and adaptation action plan.

    What issues have you tried to bring into the CSW agenda this year?

    This year AGE has called for climate justice, in the form of a more inclusive climate change mitigation and adaptation action plan. This was the official theme for International Women’s Day 2022 (IWD 2022), to which the priority theme for the CSW’s 66th edition (CSW66) was closely aligned.

    We carried out an online campaign, joined our civil society partners’ side events at CSW66 and hosted a virtual summit to commemorate IWD2022, in which we reflected on climate change and its disproportionate impact on women and girls, reviewed the progress made so far in mitigating climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa, celebrated women’s achievements, raised awareness of gender bias, engaged leading feminists working on climate justice and environmental protection in both government and the private sector in discussion and called for investment in Nigeria’s renewable energy sector.

    Against all odds, women in Nigeria have played a key role in addressing the impacts of climate change and advancing climate justice. However, in spite of their contributions, women and girls – and particularly those in vulnerable settings and displaced communities – are still being disproportionately affected by the lack of climate action.

    What were your expectations of CSW and to what degree have they been met?

    Our expectations were to be able to connect, collaborate with and learn from women’s rights organisations and activists from around the world, joining together in a unified call for climate justice.

    We re-echoed the achievements and contributions of our women, reviewed the reality and impacts of climate change on women, and called for a more level playing field and gender-responsive climate change mitigation and adaptation for a sustainable future for all.

    But we were unable to participate fully due to internet connection problems and time zone differences during most of the events.

    Do you think that international bodies, and specifically the UN, adequately integrate women into their decision-making processes?

    As the leading international body, the UN has created an enabling environment for women’s participation in leadership and decision making and inclusive governance, including through Sustainable Development Goal number 5 on gender equality. However, UN member states should match this with efforts to honour their commitments at home, reducing gender inequalities, tackling human rights violations, and upholding the rule of law.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with the African Girls Empowerment Network through itswebsite or itsFacebook page, and follow@TheAGENetwork on Twitter.

     

  • NIGERIA : « Le tollé mondial suscité par la mort de George Floyd renouvelle l’appel à la responsabilité de la police »

    CIVICUS s’entretient avec Nelson Olanipekun, avocat spécialisé dans les droits humains et fondateur et chef d’équipe de Citizens’ Gavelle (« le maillet des citoyens »), une organisation nigériane de technologie civique qui s’efforce d’accélérer l’administration de la justice en favorisant l’accès à la justice, la participation des citoyens et l’utilisation des technologies numériques. Citizens’ Gavel a été fondé en 2017, en réaction au manque de transparence et de responsabilité dans le secteur de la justice.

     

  • Nigeria: ‘If passed, the NGO Bill will reduce the ability of CSOs to hold the government accountable and ensure that human rights are respected’

    CIVICUS speaks to Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi, Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) about the draconian NGO bill under consideration by Nigerian lawmakers and the implications that it would have for civil society. Based in Lagos, NNNGO supports Nigerian NGOs in their commitment to reduce poverty, promote human rights and spread the benefits of development among all people. NNNGO provides a range of services and opportunities to help its members achieve their organisational aims and exert influence on issues relevant to the national agenda.

     

  • NIGERIA: ‘La protesta antirracista global renovó el reclamo para que la policía rinda cuentas’

    CIVICUS conversa con Nelson Olanipekun, abogado de derechos humanos y fundador y líder del equipo de Citizens’ Gavel, una organización nigeriana de tecnología cívica que trabaja para aumentar la velocidad de la impartición de justicia mediante la promoción del acceso a la justicia, la participación ciudadana y el uso de tecnologías digitales. Citizens’ Gavel fue fundada en 2017, en reacción a la falta de transparencia y rendición de cuentas en el sector de la justicia.

    Nelson Olanipekun1

    ¿Qué tipo de trabajo hace Citizens’ Gavel?

    Citizens’ Gavel es una organización de la sociedad civil (OSC) con sede en Nigeria. Fue establecida hace tres años para hacer frente a la lentitud de los procesos judiciales, promover la rendición de cuentas y ofrecer apoyo legal. Nuestro principal objetivo es aumentar la eficacia de la impartición de justicia a través de la tecnología, la incidencia y el cabildeo estratégico, y reducir las violaciones de derechos humanos a través de políticas e incidencia legal. Actualmente estamos trabajando en conjunto con otras OSC en la reforma legal. En ese sentido, estamos tratando de convertirnos en un actor relevante en los procesos de formulación de políticas que afectan los derechos fundamentales de la ciudadanía nigeriana.

    Trabajamos con casos que involucran problemas que van desde el encarcelamiento masivo hasta la falta de procesos digitalizados en el sector de la justicia. El proceso de administración de justicia en Nigeria es uno de los más lentos de África; en consecuencia, tenemos una elevada proporción de personas encarceladas en espera de juicio. Alrededor del 70% del total de personas encarceladas están esperando su juicio; apenas el 30% tienen condena. En 2017 presentamos una demanda colectiva en nombre de más de 500 personas que esperaban su juicio en prisión en el estado de Oyo. Estas personas ya habían pasado varios años en la cárcel, pese a que la ley establece que se puede retener a los acusados durante un máximo de 28 días antes de llevarlos ante los tribunales. También digitalizamos los listados de causas de más de 30 tribunales de Nigeria y nos concentramos en mejorar la cooperación entre los actores del sector judicial.

    Brindamos representación legal gratuita para los detenidos con prisión preventiva que no pueden pagar un abogado. Hemos desarrollado programas y aplicaciones para que las víctimas de abusos de derechos humanos y sus familias puedan buscar ayuda legal fácilmente. Entre ellos se destaca Podus, una plataforma tecnológica que permite a las personas con prisión preventiva conectarse con el abogado pro bono que se encuentre más cerca. Esta plataforma fue creada específicamente para jóvenes que no tienen fácil acceso a abogados o a los programas de justicia. Contamos con más de 160 abogados en 24 estados de Nigeria y con un equipo legal de respuesta rápida de siete abogados. Hasta ahora hemos resuelto 1.500 casos. Otra aplicación de tecnología que desarrollamos para el área de justicia es el Reloj de la Justicia (Justice Clock), una plataforma tecnológica que calcula la cantidad de tiempo que los reclusos pasan detenidos y la cantidad de días que los sospechosos pasan en juicio en comparación con lo que disponen la Ley de Administración de Asuntos Penales y otras leyes. La plataforma también ofrece un espacio donde los actores del sector de la justicia -el poder judicial, la policía, los fiscales y los funcionarios penitenciarios- pueden informarse sobre las mejores prácticas internacionales y mejorar su trabajo. Hemos colaborado estrechamente con el estado de Ogun para implementar con éxito el Reloj de la Justicia de modo que el sector de la justicia, y específicamente el director del Ministerio Público y el Comisionado de Justicia del estado de Ogun, se aseguraran de que se respetaran los plazos constitucionales dentro de los cuales los acusados en espera de juicio pueden permanecer encarcelados.

    Hacemos un seguimiento de los casos que involucran violencia sexual y de género (VSG), tomamos casos de brutalidad policial, monitoreamos las campañas anticorrupción y los casos de corrupción para brindar información relevante al público, y abogamos por las personas indigentes y las conectamos a través de la tecnología. Nuestra preocupación por esta población surgió de la constatación de que el número de personas pobres que permanecen presas en espera de juicio va en aumento. Si no reciben ninguna ayuda, los acusados sin medios económicos pasan mucho tiempo en la cárcel por delitos menores, simplemente porque no pueden pagar la fianza ni sobornar a la policía. También son vulnerables y pueden ser obligados a confesar delitos que no cometieron y en consecuencia puede que terminen pasando en prisión períodos aún más prolongados.

    Citizens’ Gavel también trabaja en el tema del abuso policial. ¿Cuál es la situación en Nigeria, y cómo resonaron localmente las protestas globales provocadas por la muerte de George Floyd en los Estados Unidos?

    La brutalidad policial es un gran problema en Nigeria y llevamos bastante tiempo trabajando en el tema. En abril de 2019, por ejemplo, instamos a la Policía de Nigeria para que realizara una evaluación de la salud mental a los oficiales que habían cometido abusos o asesinatos; caso contrario iniciaríamos acciones legales.

    En Nigeria, la protesta global ante la muerte de George Floyd renovó el reclamo de que la policía rinda cuentas y la gente comenzó a compartir historias de sus interacciones con agentes de policía. En conjunción con los problemas locales preexistentes, el incidente ocurrido en los Estados Unidos y sus resonancias globales realzaron las voces locales que se pronunciaban contra la brutalidad policial. Tuvimos la oportunidad de contribuir a este movimiento abordando las quejas que los ciudadanos nos hicieron llegar y continuamos trabajando para garantizar que los policías culpables rindan cuentas de sus actos.

    ¿De qué modo se han profundizado los problemas de derechos humanos durante la pandemia de COVID-19?

    En cuanto comenzó la pandemia hubo un aumento de los casos de brutalidad policial relacionados con la aplicación de las medidas de confinamiento y el control del cumplimiento de los protocolos sanitarios. Las interacciones entre ciudadanos y agentes de policía aumentaron y como resultado de ello hubo más denuncias en contra de agentes de policía. Hacia abril de 2020, parecían ser más las personas muertas a manos de la policía que las fallecidas a causa del COVID-19. Además, los abusos cometidos por la Unidad del Escuadrón Especial Antirrobo de la Fuerza de Policía de Nigeria continuaron durante la pandemia, y las autoridades siguieron sin procesar a los agentes que cometieron actos de tortura y delitos violentos, en su mayoría contra hombres jóvenes de bajos ingresos.

    Otra epidemia de larga data, la de la VSG, también floreció bajo la pandemia. Antes de la pandemia, alrededor del 30% de las mujeres y niñas de entre 15 y 49 años de edad habían sufrido abusos sexuales. Al tiempo que previenen los brotes del virus, las medidas de confinamiento representan una amenaza creciente para la seguridad de mujeres y niñas, ya que obliga a las víctimas de VSG a permanecer encerradas junto con sus abusadores. Entre marzo y abril de 2020, las denuncias de VSG aumentaron 149%. El confinamiento también comprometió la disponibilidad y el acceso a servicios, ya que muchos centros y refugios para víctimas de VSG cerraron o redujeron la gama de servicios que brindaban. Como resultado, estos servicios esenciales estuvieron en falta precisamente en el momento en que las sobrevivientes más los necesitaban.

    En respuesta a esta situación, Citizens’ Gavel aumentó la cantidad de casos de VSG que maneja. Estamos haciendo todo lo que podemos teniendo en cuenta que las reuniones físicas y las intervenciones legales fueron suspendidas y los miembros de nuestro equipo han estado trabajando de forma remota durante varios meses. Afortunadamente, nos resultó relativamente fácil manejar la situación porque somos una organización de tecnología cívica y nuestro personal ya estaba capacitado en el uso de herramientas virtuales.

    ¿De qué modo podría la sociedad civil internacional apoyar su trabajo?

    Agradeceríamos toda oportunidad de capacitación que nos ponga en mejores condiciones para atender mejor a las comunidades locales con las que trabajamos. También nos gustaría conocer las estrategias que mejor han funcionado para frenar los abusos de derechos humanos en otros contextos.

    Citizens’ Gavel pone mucho énfasis en el uso de la tecnología para resolver algunos de los problemas de justicia que tiene el país y ha podido desarrollar algunas herramientas tecnológicas en ese sentido; sin embargo, nos gustaría aprender más sobre las tecnologías que están funcionando en otros contextos. El acceso a plataformas internacionales a través de las cuales podamos exigir que nuestro gobierno rinda cuentas también es clave para nuestra estrategia.

    El espacio cívico Nigeria is calificado como “represivo” por elCIVICUS Monitor.
    Contáctese con Citizen’s Gavel a través de susitio web o su página deFacebook, y siga a@citizen_gavel en Twitter.

     

  • NIGERIA: ‘People experience gross rights violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity’

    Olaide Kayode TimileyinCIVICUS speaks about the situation of LGBTQI+ rights in Nigeria and the ongoing impacts of the British colonial legacy with Olaide Kayode Timileyin, executive director of Queercity Media and Productions.

    Queercity Media is a civil society organisation (CSO) that promotes the rights of LGBTQI+ people in West Africa through advocacy and communications.

    What is the current situation of LGBTQI+ people in Nigeria?

    Nigerian LGBTQI+ people are marginalised. They experience gross violations of their rights because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including extortion perpetrated by state actors such as the police and military as well as non-state forces such as local boys, landlords and bosses. Other violations include blackmail, mob attacks, assault and battery.

    It is very traumatic to live in an environment that discriminates against you and puts your life in danger. Homophobia is a huge problem. It is disheartening to see cisgender heterosexual people threaten the lives of LGBTQI+ people.

    Does Nigerian legislation discriminate against LGBTQI+ people?

    Yes, Nigerian laws discriminate against LGBTQI+ people. Two major laws criminalise LGBTQI+ people: the Criminal Code Act and the 2013 Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. Under these laws LGBTQI+ people are not allowed to get married or carry out their advocacy activities. In addition, their way of life is not considered to be normal because it goes against social norms. As a result of these laws, members of our communities are arrested and their rights systematically violated by the police.

    A few states, such as Lagos, also have local laws that criminalise LGBTQI+ people. In the past year Queercity Media has recorded two murders of LGBTQI+ people that were clearly linked to homophobia. In response to these we have held a nationwide digital campaign, with over a hundred people signing our petition on one of the cases.

    It is very unfortunate that we have not seen any form of government response in these cases, or any other hate crime committed on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, rights violations against the Nigerian LGBTQI+ community have only increased. For example, a recently proposed cross-dressers bill further targets and aids the targeting of queer people.

    It is clearly necessary to work on the integration and reintegration of LGBTQI+ people as active members of Nigerian society. Criminalisation not only cripples the socio-economical capacity of this population but also disempowers LGBTQI+ people from active participation in nation-building.

    What does Queercity Media do, and what kind of backlash have you faced?

    We are a community-based media organisation whose four cardinal points are productions, events, campaigns and archiving. These represent our strategic departments, namely Queercity Productions, GLOW UP Pride, Queercity Campaigns and The Nigerian LGBT+ Museum of Arts.

    As well as the rights violations that some of our staff, myself included, have experienced at the hands of the Nigerian police because of our work, the comments section of our Facebook page can sometimes be quite scary. This is one of our main ways of being in direct contact with everyday Nigerians, and it is mostly filled with negative comments or aggressive arguments among strangers.

    Sometimes we learn from these reactions to better design our campaign language and approach. However, funding is a major problem for us and many LGBTQI+ organisations in West Africa, as no one seems to be interested in LGBTQI+ people, organisations or businesses, so we are often self-funded. Lack of access to proper funding also massively limits the reach we have compared to mainstream media organisations.

    How can the international community support LGBTQI+ people fighting for their rights in Commonwealth countries?

    Sadly, partnerships across Commonwealth countries on LGBTQI+ rights and movement-building is slow, and I do not know the reason for this. But I believe if we could find organisations doing the same work we are doing in other Commonwealth countries, it should be easy to create networks and partnerships to foster each organisation’s strategic goals in their home countries.

    The international community and international civil society could help by recognising the socio-political nuances of working with local LGBTQI+ organisations and the need to be more flexible with their partnership and funding approach. That way, the advocacy work of organisations and activists living in contexts of restricted civic space will be enhanced and they will be able to better promote the rights of LGBTQI+ people.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with Queercity Media and Productions through itswebsite orFacebook andInstagram pages, and follow@PrideInLagos on Twitter. 

     

  • NIGERIA: ‘The federal government and ASUU at some point made it feel like our education doesn’t matter’

    Benedicta ChisomCIVICUS speaks with Benedicta Chisom about the current student mobilisation that is calling on Nigeria’s government to respond to teachers’ demands and end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). 

    Benedicta is a student at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Nigeria and a creative writer. Being directly affected by the ASUU strike, she has worked on social media to create awareness about it and its underlying issues.

    How did the #EndASUUStrike movement start, and what does it want to achieve?

    The #EndASUUStrike started with students’ protests at the University of Benin and Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, and then snowballed into an online movement. Its message is simple: we want to go back to school.

    Students just want to voice their grievances over the strike. Both the federal government and ASUU at some point made us feel like our education doesn’t matter. They keep going back and forth with the matter while our academic year is wasted. Every time teachers go on strike, we become passive spectators, just waiting on them to decide when to end it. We had to remind them that we matter too, and that it is our education and future that is at stake.

    The protest was our way of demanding that the federal government and ASUU come to a final agreement so that teachers stop going on strike every single academic year. As a result of the strikes that have happened since 2020, we have lost more than 12 months of our academic career.

    It would be a shame if the students that come after us continue to face the same challenges. Recurrent strikes need to end with us, this year. We want a five-year course to take five years of schooling, not more.

    How has the government responded so far?

    In February, President Mohammed Buhari mandated a trio composed of his chief of staff, the minister of education and the minister of labour and employment to address the disagreement with ASUU over the strike. The Minister of Labour met with the other unions – the National Association of Academic Technologists, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions – which went on strike in support of ASUU. He assured the public that the government is tackling disputes in the educational sector holistically and acknowledged that some issues causing the crisis are economic, including funding for the revitalisation of universities and workers’ welfare.

    But ASUU and the students are angry at the government’s undivided focus on the upcoming 2023 general election, as though students and their education did not matter. The union also condemned the rush to purchase the ruling All Progress Congress party’s presidential nomination forms by politicians even though money is one of the reasons for the strike. It accused the ministers of labour and education of insensitivity.

    According to Independent Electoral Commission, more than half of registered voters, 51.1 per cent, are between the ages of 18 and 35. Many of them are students, and how will students believe in the government if their voices aren’t heard by the people they vote for? At some point we had hopes for change but now that the strike has been extended by 12 weeks, I can’t say much. But we are positive the mobilisation will drive home our grievances to some extent.

    What do you think striking teachers should do?

    For students, the strike is frustrating and disheartening. We are told to stay home without any idea of when we will return to school. I have spent a whole semester at home, and what was supposed to be a five-year course increased to six years. Our lives are put on hold; this affects not only our academic progression but also our life plans. Education workers should be more flexible with their demands and have more empathy towards students.

    What should the government do?

    There are many things the federal government can do to ensure that both the needs of students and education workers are met. The government must offer a good agreement to ASUU and begin to implement it immediately. It must also start paying unpaid allowances and salaries. This will give students back their right to education and stabilise the economy. The strike has done a lot of damage already.

    One of the first things the government could do is adopt the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option instead of the system currently used. UTAS was created by Nigerian experts and must be run and maintained locally, so it will encourage local innovation and provide employment. It has passed the test and ASUU has agreed to improve it. It has become a bone of contention, so there is a big chance the strike will end once it is adopted.

    Most significantly, the government must set out a strategy and timeline to come up with the billion-dollar funding required to revitalise universities. This will show ASUU and students that they are indeed working towards restoring public universities.

    What kind of support do you need from the international community? 

    Social media has made the world a global village, so I am sure people in other parts of the world are aware of the protests and strikes in Nigeria. We need more voices to put pressure on our government to take immediate action. It would be of great help if students in other countries and Nigerians in the diaspora could help share the #EndASUUStrike hashtag, repost our posts and share our tweets to add momentum to the movement.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • NIGERIA: ‘The global anti-racist protests renewed the call for police accountability’

    CIVICUS speaks to Nelson Olanipekun, a human rights lawyer and the founder and team lead of Citizens’ Gavel, a Nigerian civic tech organisation that works to increase the pace of the delivery of justice by promoting access to justice, citizens’ engagement and the use of digital technologies. Citizens’ Gavel was founded in 2017 in reaction to the lack transparency and accountability in the justice sector.

    Nelson Olanipekun1

    What kind of work does Citizens’ Gavel do?

    Citizens’ Gavel is a civil society organisation (CSO) based in Nigeria. It was established three years ago to tackle the slow pace of the delivery of justice, promote accountability, and provide legal support. Our main goal is to increase the effectiveness of the delivery of justice through tech, advocacy, and strategic lobbying, and to reduce human rights violations through policy and legal advocacy. At the moment we are working jointly with other CSOs on legal reform. In doing so, we are trying to become a major player in policy-making processes that affect the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

    We work with cases involving issues that range from mass incarceration to the lack of digitised processes in the justice sector. The justice delivery process in Nigeria is one of the slowest in Africa and it results in a high percentage of people incarcerated while awaiting trial. About 70 percent of the people who are in prison are awaiting trial; only 30 percent have been convicted. In 2017 we filed a class action suit for more than 500 people who were awaiting trial in prison in Oyo State. These people had already spent several years in prison, although the law establishes that people can be held for a maximum of 28 days before being taken to court. We also digitised cause lists in over 30 courts across Nigeria, and focused on improving cooperation among stakeholders in the justice sector.

    We provide pro bono legal representation for pre-trial detainees who can’t afford a lawyer. We have developed programmes and apps for human rights abuse victims and their families to reach out for legal help easily. One of them is Podus, a tech platform that enables victims of pre-trial detention to connect with the pro bono lawyer nearest to their location. This platform was created specifically for young people, who don’t have easy access to lawyers or justice programmes. We have over 160 lawyers across 24 states in Nigeria and a rapid response legal team of seven lawyers. So far we have resolved 1,500 cases. Another tech-for-justice app we developed is Justice Clock, a tech platform that helps calculate the amount of time inmates spend in detention and the number of days suspects spend on trial vis-a-vis the appropriate provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and other laws. The platform also offers a space where actors in the justice sector – the judiciary, the police, prosecutors and prison officials – can stand at par with international best practices, and in doing so can make their work easier. We have worked hand in hand with Ogun State to successfully deploy the Justice Clock so that the justice sector, specifically the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner for Justice of Ogun State, ensures that it respects the constitutional time limits for which inmates awaiting trial can be imprisoned.

    We track cases that involve sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), take cases of police brutality, monitor anti-corruption campaigns and anti-corruption cases to provide relevant information to the public, and advocate for people living in extreme poverty and connect them through tech. Our concern about this population originally arose from the growing number of poor people who are imprisoned while awaiting trial. If they don’t receive any help, poor defendants spend a long time in jail for minor offences, just because they cannot afford to either pay bail or bribe the police. They are also vulnerable and can be coerced into confessing to crimes they did not commit and end up spending even longer periods in prison.

    Citizens’ Gavel also works on police brutality. What is the situation in Nigeria, and how did the global protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in the USA resonate locally?

    Police brutality is a big issue in Nigeria and we have worked on it for some time. In April 2019, for instance, we challenged the Nigerian Police Force to conduct mental health assessments on officers who had committed abuses or killings, or otherwise face legal action.

    The global protests triggered by the death of George Floyd renewed the call for police accountability in Nigeria and people started sharing stories of their encounters with police officers. Coupled with pre-existing local issues, the US incident that resonated globally enhanced the local voices who were speaking up against police brutality. We were able to contribute by addressing the complaints that citizens reported to us and continuing to work to ensure culpable officers are held accountable.

    In what ways have human rights issues worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    As the pandemic started there was an increase in police brutality related to the enforcement of lockdown measures and compliance with sanitary protocols. Interactions between citizens and police officers increased and resulted in more complaints against police officers. By April 2020, it appeared that police officers had killed more people than COVID-19. Additionally, the brutalities committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Unit of the Nigerian Police Force continued during the pandemic, and the authorities continued failing to prosecute officers who committed torture and violent crimes, mostly against young men from low-income backgrounds.

    Another longstanding epidemic, that of SGBV, flourished under the pandemic. Before the pandemic, about 30 percent of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 had experienced sexual abuse. While preventing outbreaks of the virus, lockdown measures represented a heightened threat to the safety of girls and women, as victims of SGBV remained locked in with their abusers. Between March and April 2020, reports of SGBV increased by 149 percent. The lockdown also compromised the availability of and access to services, as many centres and shelters for victims of SGBV closed or reduced the range of services they provided. As a result, these essential services were lacking precisely when survivors needed them the most.

    In response to this situation, Citizens’ Gavel increased the number of SGBV cases we manage. We are doing as much as we can, taking into account that physical meetings and legal interventions were suspended and our team members had to work remotely for several months. Fortunately, this was relatively easy to pivot to because we are a civic tech organisation and our staff had already been trained to use online tools.

    What kind of support from international civil society would help your work?

    We would appreciate training opportunities to enhance our skills to better serve the local communities we work with. We would also like to know about the strategies that work best to curb human rights abuses in other environments.

    Citizens’ Gavel is big on using tech to solve some of the local justice issues and has been able to develop some tech tools; however, we would like to learn more about technologies that work in other contexts. Accessing international platforms through which we can hold the government accountable is also key to our strategy.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with Citizens’ Gavel through itswebsite orFacebook page, and follow@citizen_gavel on Twitter.

     

     

  • NIGERIA: ‘The government is more willing to negotiate with terrorists than with striking teachers’

    Olorunfemi AdeyeyeCIVICUS speaks with Olorunfemi Adeyeye about the current student mobilisation that is calling on Nigeria’s government to respond to teachers’ demands and end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). 

    Olorunfemi is a student activist and member of the Fund Education Coalition, which works to raise awareness about the importance of Nigerian public universities and is currently supporting teachers by taking part in the #EndASUUStrike movement.

    How did the #EndASUUStrike movement start, and what does it want to achieve?

    The origins of the campaign are in the Fund Education Coalition movement, a coalition of Nigerian student groups advocating for education rights. #EndASUUStrike started when student organisations came together and called for students to be at the forefront of the struggle for their rights to quality public education. It uses the grievances of the ASUU strike to highlight what students need to have on their respective campuses.

    The demands of the ASUU strike include several issues that concern Nigerian students directly. For instance, the union has raised the need to revitalise public universities. This is of great importance to students, who are the direct victims of underfunding. The campaign to properly fund education demands the revitalisation of laboratory equipment, which is in poor state, and fixes to the problems of overcrowded lecture halls and moribund campus health centres, among other key aspects. The union also frowns at the proliferation of universities and seeks an amendment to the 2004 National Universities Commission Act. The establishment of more universities, while existing ones are poorly funded, has become a constituency project for Nigerian rulers. Almost everyone in the ruling class wants to have one in their backyard. This is just unacceptable. We are fully in support of the strike, which also highlights issues surrounding the poor remuneration of lecturers.

    What the Fund Education Coalition wants is for the Nigerian government to accede to workers’ demands in the educational sector. And not just to ASUU’s: the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists are also on strike. With all education workers currently on strike, it was only rational for students to join them.

    Have you established any connections with student movements facing similar challenges in other parts of the world?

    Social media platforms have made it easy for us to share information about the #EndASUUStrike movement, reaching a vast audience across the world. Unfortunately, however, we have not yet had the chance to get in contact with any international student organisations facing similar issues.

    As student activists, when things happen in other countries we lend voices to help each other – for instance, when the #FeesMustFall movement erupted in South Africa the Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neoliberal Attacks, an organisation I led in 2018, released a statement of support. We hope the same will also happen with the #EndASUUStrike. International solidarity among all the oppressed people in the world is key.

    To counter the government’s propaganda that ASUU is on strike because it feels it can gain some concessions due to the approaching elections, it should be noted that this isn’t a new problem. Interestingly, there are no new problems in Nigeria. Our issues date back a long way. Strikes similar to the current one have been happening since the 1980s and the issues they point to continue to affect generation after generation of Nigerians.

    We are still dealing with the same issues, as the government systematically fails to fulfil its promises and implement the agreements reached with unions. Our issues are perennial and endemic, but even though they may be different from those faced by young people in other countries, we are still open to collaboration with as many organisations from around the world as possible.

    How has the ASUU strike affected you?

    As students it is very unfortunate that we must go through this again. It is an endless cycle of spending very little of your time in class and most of it on the streets fighting for your right to education.

    When ASUU goes on strike, it not only affects academic activities, but also the economic and social life of everyone in the academic community. There are students who depend on universities being open because they sell academic textbooks, stationery or equipment to make a living. There are also people who run businesses within universities as a means of providing for their families. All these have been disrupted. The strike has affected everyone.

    As student activists, some of our activities have been affected and we have not been organising as we normally would on campuses. We hope the federal government will agree to ASUU’s demands so things can go back to normal.

    What do you think education workers should do?

    First, I need to clarify that students have a good relationship with ASUU and the other educational workers’ unions. We are all partners in the education sector. As students, we have been able to present some of our ideas and thoughts to ASUU.

    An issue we discussed recently was that they should come out with a clear message against the government’s propaganda. The government has tried to convince people that it cannot accede to ASUU’s demands because there is no money to fund education. This is misinformation and propaganda, so we have asked ASUU to counter it with their own narrative and make it public. Everyone should understand why ASUU is striking and support their struggle. This will not only benefit teachers, students and their families, but it will also help us save public universities and ensure they are well equipped for ordinary citizens to attend.

    How has the government responded so far to both the ASUU strike and the #EndASUUStrike movement?

    The federal government has not responded to ASUU’s and students’ demands. Faced with strikes by other unions, such as the Airline Operators of Nigeria, the government reacted fast to prevent the suspension of airline services. But ASUU has been on strike for almost three months and the government has not even called them to a meeting. This serves as an indication that education is not really a priority for them. The government is more willing to negotiate with terrorists and bandits than to sit down and negotiate with academic workers.

    As a result, ASUU has decided to extend the strike by three more months, which means students will have spent close to six months without attending school.

    We hope we can put more pressure on the government so it will react to what is happening. We want the government to agree to a meeting with ASUU representatives and commit, this time, to solving the issues brought up at the meetings.

    What kinds of support do you need from the international community?

    As someone who is at the frontline of the struggle to protect a public education, I would say that the international community should put pressure on the Nigerian government to prioritise education.

    The government has been telling us it does not have money to fund education, but yet there is serious capital flight from Nigeria to other countries. The president has donated one million US dollars to Afghanistan and oil theft has grown. Who is stealing the oil? Not ordinary people. Who are contributing to oil theft, money laundering and massive capital flight, if not foreign nations? These monies are mostly not kept in our banks. We need our international allies to put pressure on the government to stop capital flight and instead invest in education. 

    International organisations should also help us put pressure on foreign governments, corporations and parastate actors to stop aiding and abetting the thievery in Nigeria. Nigeria has plenty of resources that should be put to the correct use, such as funding education.

    In addition, we need the international community to help us push our narrative through social media so that more attention is paid to the situation Nigerian students are dealing with.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Follow@activistfemi on Twitter. 

     

  • Nigeria: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review Report

     

    UN Human Rights Council – 40th Session
    15 March 2019
    Oral Statement

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs and CIVICUS welcome the Government of Nigeria’s engagement in the 3rd cycle of the UPR process, including accepting a range of recommendations presented by the UPR Working Group in November 2018.

    We note that since the 2nd UPR review, the government has worked towards strengthening security operations through retraining law enforcement personnel in interrogation. However, we urge Nigeria to put effective measures in place to curb police brutality through a comprehensive reform of the police force.

    It is disappointing to note that despite the continued harassment of the press and of civil society organisations, the national report of Nigeria barely addressed the issue of restrictions on civic space. Arrests, detentions and harassment of human rights defenders continues. Maryam Awaisu, one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, was arrested in her office in February 2019. In January, the Abuja and regional offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspapers, were raided by soldiers. The paper’s regional editor and a reporter were arrested and later released.

    Although the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Bill was rejected, we note with concern a new bill that is before the Senate, the Establishment of the Federal Charities Commission of Nigeria, which seeks to regulate the activities of NGOs. We urge Nigeria not to adopt laws that would further undermine civic space.

    We call on the Nigerian government to consider the 12 recommendations made by delegates relating to civic space and the operations of security personnel whilst fully implementing the eight accepted recommendations from the previous review relating to the protection of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists.


    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our joint submission on Nigeria for the UN Universal Periodic Review 

     

  • Nigeria: Democracy Dialogue Report: 18 July 2018

    Democracy Dialogue held by Girls Education Mission International in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria, 18 July 2018

     

  • Nigeria: Proposed NGO bill will be a death knell for civil society

    Abuja —A proposed bill currently before Nigeria’s lawmakers, which will give the government sweeping powers over non-governmental organisations (NGOs), threatens the existence of Nigerian civil society, if passed into law.

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, have warned that the bill is clearly intended as a means to undermine the work of NGOs, especially those working to hold the government accountable. The fact that the House of Representatives hastily announced a scheduled public hearing for 13 and 14 December 2017 in the capital, Abuja is indicative of the intention of the authorities to avoid broad participation of civil society organisations from the different parts of Nigeria and ram the bill through the Legislature.  Most CSOs are based outside of Abuja, where the public hearing will be held, making it difficult for them to travel to the hearing at short notice. 

    The Bill for the Establishment of the NGO’s Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations makes it compulsory for all NGOs operating in Nigeria to register with the government and requires them to include details such has location and duration of proposed activities as well as information on all sources of funding.  In addition, the proposed legislation states that NGOs will be required to provide “additional information” as requested by the Board during registration but does not say what this “additional information” would be. 

    These requirements make the registration process cumbersome and may inhibit the timely registration of some NGOs, making them susceptible to penalties.  In addition, making NGO registration compulsory goes against international standards for freedom of association as it prevents informal associations from existing and operating freely because of their lack of formal status.

    Said Oyebisi Oluseyi, NNNGO Director: “Civil society organisations in Nigeria provide social services to communities, contribute towards development outcomes and work to ensure that the government adheres to its human rights obligation.” If passed into law, the proposed NGO law will severely restrict the environment in which civil society operates and reverse socio-economic and democratic gains made over the years.” 

    The Bill provides wide powers to a regulatory agency to refuse to issue a registration certificate if, for example, it deems activities of the NGO to be against national interest.  The Agency also has the authority to suspend or cancel a certificate that has been issued. Such broad powers place NGOs — especially those critical of government actions and who speak out against corruption and human rights violations — at the mercy of the authorities who can deregister organisations as a punitive measure for holding the government to account. 

    The content of the Bill is symptomatic of a growing global trend we now experience among governments to thwart the work of civil society organisations by placing restrictions on them in law and practice and by using the term “foreign agents” to discredit their work.  

    In addition, the Bill requires that NGOs register every two years and that the names of NGOs that fail to do so are deleted from the national register, forcing such NGOs to cease all their activities. It states that the registration of an organisation will be renewed on condition that the organisation submits its tax clearance certificate and other relevant documentation required by the Board. 

    The Bill compels NGOs to submit projects to the relevant government Ministry for approval and then registered with the agency’s board before they are implemented. The Bill does not place a limit on the registration fees for NGOs but leaves it to the discretion of the Commission.  Individuals who violate provisions of the Bill face up to 18 months in prison or a huge fine and those convicted of such violations are prohibited from holding office in an NGO for a period of ten years.  

    Said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for CIVICUS: “If passed into law, this draconian bill will place civil society under the thumb of the government and practically take away the independence of NGOs.  It might also set a negative precedent in the West African region, aggravating an already hostile environment for civil society.”

    CIVICUS and NNNGO call on the Nigerian authorities to adhere to their constitutional and international obligations on freedom of association and expression and withdraw the Bill. 

    ENDS.

    For more information contact:

    Oyebisi Oluseyi

    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    +234 906 948 5207

    David Kode

    Lead: Campaigns and Advocacy

    CIVICUS

    +27 11 833 5959

     

  • Nigeria: Urgent call to end violence against #EndSARS protesters

    The brutal shooting of peaceful protesters in Lagos by Nigerian security forces is a gross violation of protesters’ rights and those responsible should be held accountable by the authorities, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today.

     

  • Nigerian president Buhari must ensure release of journalist Jones Abiri

    President Muhammadu Buhari
    Aso Villa, Yakubu Gowon Crescent, 
    The Three Arms Zone, Asokoro, 
    Abuja, FTC, Nigeria

    Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,

    We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization that champions press freedom internationally, and 18 other organizations, are writing to call for the release of journalist Jones Abiri, who has been held by Nigeria's Department of State Security (DSS) for nearly two years, and to call for DSS to be held accountable for its attacks against journalists in Nigeria.

    We were disappointed that, after repeated requests during CPJ's visit to Nigeria in April 2018, we were not permitted to visit Abiri in detention. In a meeting with CPJ on April 24, 2018, Garba Shehu, your presidential spokesperson, confirmed that Abiri remained in DSS custody and said he would be charged in court on allegations of being a militant. Yet after almost two years behind bars, Abiri has not seen a courtroom, nor has his family been given any information about his health and well-being.

    The DSS operates under Nigeria's coordinator of national security, which reports directly to you, according to the 1986 National Security Agencies Act. During a visit to State House in April, Garba Shehu also told CPJ that you would be made personally aware of Abiri's ongoing detention. We therefore call for your swift action to ensure Abiri's release and that those responsible for his prolonged and illegal detention are held accountable.

    In February and March 2018, the DSS also arrested Tony Ezimakor, the Abuja bureau chief of the privately owned Daily Independent newspaper. CPJ documented Ezimakor's week-long detention without charge or court appearance, during which the DSS threatened the journalist with terrorism charges for his reporting.

    Over the last two years, CPJ has repeatedly tried to contact Lawal Musa Daura, director general of the DSS, and Gbeteng Bassi, director of operations of the DSS, without success. Nigerian journalists have similarly told CPJ, with dismay, that they are unable to reach the DSS for comment, regarding the arrest of their colleagues or otherwise. During the same April 2018 meeting with CPJ, Garba Shehu confirmed that the DSS has not designated anyone responsible for communicating with the Nigerian public. We urge you to improve accountability and make the DSS accessible to the press. This includes the appointment of a DSS spokesperson.

    Your action to ensure the safety of journalists and the promotion of open dialogue through the press is made even more important because Nigeria will hold elections in February 2019. Around the world, CPJ has documented how attacks on journalists have escalated during election periods and other political processes. It is in this context that we urge you to take decisive action to ensure that journalists are free to report on matters of public concern, and that a culture of self-censorship does not cloud public decision-making processes. As part of this, Abiri should be released without delay.

    Sincerely,

    Joel Simon
    Executive Director
    Committee to Protect Journalists

    Shu'aibu Usman Leman
    National Secretary
    Nigerian Union of Journalists

    Wade H. McMullen, Jr.
    Managing Attorney
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Elizabeth Chyrum
    Director
    Human Rights Concern - Eritrea

    David Kode
    Head of Advocacy and Campaigns 
    CIVICUS

    Edmund YaKani
    Executive Director
    Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, South Sudan

    Zohrab Ismayil 
    Programmes Director
    Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center (CCIC)

    Yared Hailemariam
    Director
    Association For Human Rights In Ethiopia (AHRE)

    Dina Meza
    Directora Ejecutiva 
    Asociación por la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos
    ASOPODEHU-Honduras

    Melanie Sonhaye Kombate
    Programs and Advocacy Director
    West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)

    Rahman Gharib
    Chairman
    Metro Center for Journalists Rights & Advocacy

    Alphonsus B.M. Gbanie
    Executive Secretary
    Human Rights Defenders Network- Sierra Leone

    Yemisi Ransome-Kuti
    Founding Executive Director and Board Member, 
    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    Osai Ojigho
    Director
    Amnesty International - Nigeria

    Cristina Palabay
    Secretary General 
    Karapatan - Philippines

    Adilur Khan
    Secretary General
    Odhikar - Bangladesh

    Carles Torner
    Executive Director
    PEN International

    Folu Agoi
    President
    PEN Nigeria

    Sulemana Braimah
    Executive Director
    Media Foundation for West Africa

     

  • Worrying legislation to restrict Nigerian civil society sector underway

    CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) are deeply concerned about impending legislation to restrict freedom of association in Nigeria.

    Nigeria’s National Assembly is currently considering a bill to provide for “the establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations etc. in Nigeria and for related matters.” First introduced in July 2016, the bill has since passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives. The bill has now been referred to the Committee on CSOs and Development Partners for further legislative input.

    “The bill is in conflict with Nigeria’s Constitutional and international law obligations,” says Oyebisi Oluseyi, Executive Director of NNNGO. “We must instead strengthen civic space in Nigeria, as our sector’s role in finding solutions to the enormous challenges facing our nation cannot be overemphasized”.