By Emmanuel Nduka
Amnesty International (AI) has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of preferring to fight off criticisms and freedom of expression, rather than addressing Nigeria’s worsening insecurity.
Amnesty Nigeria Chief, Osai Ojigho made this remark on Thursday while speaking at a virtual meeting moderated by a senior programme manager at Paradigm Initiative, Adeboye Adegoke.
“What we are seeing is a government that is highly sensitive to criticism and, as such, seeks to work more on the public relation side of things — how it looks — rather than addressing the core issues.
“This is why it’s quite worrying when you look at the insecurity situation in Nigeria that we are today, because people have been speaking up, and nothing has happened. People have complained about attacks on their villages and communities, but no one has been prosecuted.”
She added that the Nigerian government has made several attempts to restrict how the rights body and other groups launch activities demanding immediate attention of the federal government on security and other issues.
“At Amnesty International and several groups, we’ve constantly called the Nigerian authorities’ attention to these issues — not just nationally, but on the global arena.
“That is why there is now a much more deliberate attempt to restrict how we do this work and to threaten independent organisations from carrying out their own monitoring and observation work because the government feels threatened by it,” she stated.
On the recent Twitter ban in Nigeria, Ms Ojigho described it as a deliberate attack on press freedom, adding that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is not in the position to tell the press “what they should say and how they should say”.
“I know most people will come out and say, ‘oh, but some people say things that are not true or say things that harm people’s reputation, should they go scot-free?’ The law has already provided means through which redress can be made when those violations occur,” AI added.