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70 Civil Groups Ask FG To Reverse Twitter Ban, Withdraw Prosecution Threat

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Civil society organisations numbering 70 have called on the Federal Government to reverse the ban placed on Twitter and withdraw the threat to prosecute anyone using the app in the country.

The groups in a statement jointly signed on Monday condemned the action of the Federal Government describing it as ‘unlawful.’

“We, the undersigned civil society organizations are concerned about the repression and escalating crackdown on human rights by the Nigerian government, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.

“We strongly condemn the arbitrary and unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, by the authorities, and the resulting restrictions on the human rights of people, as well as the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in Nigeria.

“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian authorities to immediately rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and withdraw the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country,” the statement read in part.

The groups also condemn the “directive” issued by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for all broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.

They asked that the Federal Government, “Immediately withdraw the directive to broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.”

The groups asked that the Federal Government end the widespread impunity for human rights violations, in particular the rights to freedom of expression including online, access to information and media freedom.

They called on the international community, including the UN and the African Union to publicly condemn the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to reverse the decision.

According to the groups, Social media platforms have helped Nigerians to receive information, impart the same, hold useful conversations, and hold the Nigerian authorities to account. A clear example is how social media was used to drive police accountability in the #EndSARs protests last year.

They lamented that the Nigerian authorities have also set plans in motion to force social media platforms to register in Nigeria and comply with local regulations before they are licensed to operate.

“The Nigerian authorities have continued to propose laws to regulate the social media, and restrict the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, including through legislative bills popularly known as the ‘Hate Speech Bill’ and ‘The Social Media Bill’ which both provide severe punitive sanctions such as the death penalty in some cases, for social media users convicted of “crimes” provided under them,” they added.

The civil groups said the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The statement was jointly signed by Amnesty International Nigeria; CISLAC (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre); Global Rights; Nigeria Mourns; Business and Human Rights Roundtable; Tap Initiative for citizens development; Civil society consortium on civic space; Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Alliances for Africa; WILPF Nigeria; Echoes of Women in Africa Initiatives; Akubeze Okocha; B.E.E Initiative; Access to Justice; Sterling Centre for Law & Development; Concerned Nigerians; JENNON-PIUS &Co initiative; Education as a Vaccine; Invictus Africa; Dinidari Foundation; Raising New Voices Initiative; Centre for Impact Advocacy (CIA); Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER); BudgIT; The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact; Enough is Enough (EiE); Yiaga Africa; among others.

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Gunmen Abduct 13 Passengers In Niger

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The Police Command in Niger on Wednesday confirmed the abduction of thirteen passengers by gunmen at Konar Barau village of Rafi Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Monday Kuryas, confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.

Kuryas said that at about 1530 hours, the DPO of Zungeru reported that one Mubarak Idris of Kwanawa village, Sokoto State, a driver of an 18-seater bus with registration number LGT 12 XWX loaded with 18 passengers from Yauwuri Kebbi state mostly fishermen heading to Yenagoa Bayelsa state on fishing activities, reported the matter to the police.

He said Idris reported that on getting to Konar Barau sharp bend under Rafi local government area along Tegina — Minna road, suspected bandits in military uniform kidnapped 13 of his passengers and his motor boy.

He said the gunmen also dispossessed the driver with N131,500.

The commissioner said that already aggressive manhunt for the hoodlums had commenced and solicited the support of residents, especially those in rural areas, to assist the police with reliable information that could lead to the arrest of the miscreants.

” We appeal to residents to volunteer reliable information that could aid in apprehending miscreants in the state.

” We are doing everything humanly possible to ensure the protection of lives and property in our area of supervision.

” All we require from residents is vital intelligence information that could aid the security personnel deployed across the state on movement of dubious characters in their midst for necessary security action,” he said.

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Decisively End Police Brutality, Amnesty International Tells FG

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Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian authorities to put words into action and decisively end Police impunity and ensure that the rights of Nigerians to peaceful protests as guaranteed by the constitution are protected.

Speaking on the occasion of the #EndSARS Memorial on Wednesday, Country Director of the organisation Osai Ojigho said an independent investigation by the organisation found that the Nigerian Army and Police killed at least 12 people on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate and Alausa in Lagos.

“Amnesty International was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the Police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.

“The organisation also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers. In many cases, Police abuse continued in detention, in Police stations and other holding facilities, and on the way to detention, in Police vehicles,” Ojigho stated.

A year after the #EndSARS protest, members of the security forces found culpable of human rights violations are yet to be prosecuted, while judicial panels of inquiry set up to investigate abuses by officers have made little progress.

Amnesty International has urged the Nigerian government to thoroughly, independently, impartially, and transparently investigate suspected perpetrators of human rights violations in the country and bring them to justice.

“Failure to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the torture and killings of #EndSARS protesters on 20 October 2020 is yet another indication that Nigerian authorities lack the political will to ensure accountability for these atrocities, and end police brutality,” the organisation said.
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Similarly, a Nigerian entertainer DJ Switch, who gained prominence after doing a live video of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting last October, has called out the Nigerian Minister for Information Lai Mohammed for discrediting the real-time information disseminated from the toll gate scene on the night of October 20, 2020.

Speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a series of global conferences run by the New York-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation under the slogan ‘Challenging Power,’ DJ Switch stated: “Our leaders are afraid; it is as simple as that. They are afraid of a thinking, innovative and collaborative working Nigeria. They are afraid of every young Nigerian who, against all odds, have made it for themselves.”

Referencing Nigeria’s music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s 1977 hit song, Zombie, where he likened the Nigerian Army to zombies, she said the song was relevant today, as it was 44 years ago.

The entertainer, who recently relocated out of the country and has remained a strong voice against Police brutality, added: “we stand up to our oppressors, starting with the Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.”

Despite the indefinite ban on Twitter in Nigeria, Nigerians within the country and in the diaspora, as well as other nationalities sympathetic the #EndSARS campaign which rode on the back of the global Black Lives Matter movement, have constituted a ‘netizen’ and launched a 20-day #EndSARS activism to commemorate the event of 20th October, 2020.

Various discourses are expected to be held, aimed at calling attention to the implementation of the five priority demands – the immediate release of all arrested protesters, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality, investigation and prosecution of all reported cases of police misconduct, psychological evaluation and retraining of all disbanded SARS officers by an independent body, and better salary and welfare for police officers.

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#EndSARS: FG Prescribes Compulsory Psychiatric Test On All Security Agents

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The Federal Government has directed the leadership of all security agencies in the country to conduct periodic psychiatric evaluations and drug tests on their men to forestall issues of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings by security operatives.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja.

He said the National Executive Council has mandated that all arms-bearing security agencies ensure they carry out the same test on anyone seeking to be enlisted.

“NEC called on the leadership of the security agencies to ensure that persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personnel is psychologically fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social interventions,” he said.

The Minister also faulted the reports on the alleged Lekki tollgate shooting, particularly by the Cable News Network (CNN) and Amnesty International, describing them as fake.

According to him, one year down the line, no family members of those allegedly killed have come out to testify about their claims and that there have been inconsistencies in the report on the number of those said to have been killed.

He equally assured that compensations will be paid to victims of police brutality as recommended by the various panels set up across the country, adding that security agents also indicted during the panels’ investigations will be prosecuted.

The Minister’s remarks come on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest held across different parts of the country and in Abuja.

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