By Tunde Oguntola |
Civil society organisations in the country have urged the federal government to commit to freedom of expression and assembly and end the arrests of people for expressing their opinions.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended guarantees fundamental rights and freedom for all such as association, peaceful assembly, and expression.
The executive secretary, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Oyebisi Oluseyi, in a communique issued at the end of USAID-funded Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) two-day dialogue series on Safeguarding Civic Space, stressed the need for the rights of Nigeria to be protected.
It said this right includes the right to participate in peaceful assemblies, meetings, protests, strikes, sit-ins, demonstrations and other temporary gatherings for a specific purpose.
“There is no requirement that the association be registered for the right of the freedom of association to apply. Under the right to the freedom of association, groups have the right to access funding and resources,” the communique said.
Over the years, Nigerians have also faced the problem of limited and declining civic space in other aspects of their lives. On attacks on civic space of Nigerians, from 2015 to date, a nongovernmental organisation, Spaces for Change, recorded a total of 252 incidents of government crackdown on civic space in Nigeria.
The incident tracked Spaces for Change also shows 63 recorded cases of press freedom/serious attack on journalists, freedom of association 48, free speech 53, torture and degrading treatment 36, right to life 25, political restriction 15 and anti-money laundering/countering of terrorism financing five.
However, while 146 males were affected correspondingly 36 females were also affected during this period. Meanwhile, the South-west region 58, South-east 33, South-south 43, North-west 27, North-central 83 and North-east eight cases.