The civic group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability project, SERAP, has condemned Federal government’s deployment of security agents to molest peaceful demonstrators currently protesting for better governance in Nigeria.
SERAP said this in an official statement issued by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, calling on the Federal Government to cease from forcibly preventing the protesters from exercising their inalienable human rights
“By failing to adequately protect protesters from violent attacks, Nigerian authorities have blatantly violated their obligations under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
“Nobody should be arrested or subjected to torture and ill-treatment simply for taking part in peaceful protests. The authorities should stop criminalising peaceful protesters” SERAP said in a statement.
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They noted with disappointment, the ironic role played by security agents during today’s peaceful demonstration. According to SERAP, instead of enjoining well-meaning Nigerians to duly demand their fundamental rights, the security agents have ended up playing the villain by wantonly abusing the protesters without legitimate cause to do so.
SERAP, in the statement called on government and its principal officers to listen to the yearnings of suffering Nigerians who have perennially witnessed their collective resources frittered away by gross mismanagement and pervasive corruption.
The group further called on the International community, especially the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, to wade into the narrative and reproach the Nigerian government from further flouting it’s constitution by violating the citizens’ right to freedom of expression and assembly.
“Rather than suppressing peaceful protests, the authorities ought to protect peaceful protesters and ensure a safe and enabling environment for people to exercise their constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
SERAP, therefore, urged the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested, promptly investigate attacks on protesters, and identify security agents suspected to be responsible and bring them to justice.
“Nigerian authorities need to take seriously the protesters’ socio-economic grievances, including by immediately taking measures to genuinely fight grand corruption, and improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.
“SERAP urges the international community including the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to publicly condemn attacks on peaceful protests and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to effectively investigate attacks on protesters, prosecute perpetrators and to respect and protect the human rights of everyone.
“Nigerian constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party guarantee the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the right of peaceful assembly.”
“The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials prohibit the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters,” the organisation added.
SERAP is one of the non-profit organizations which has called out the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration severally in recent months. Only a few days ago, the group released an official statement saying that it has lodged a suit with the Federal High Court, Abuja, demanding for the President to Publish details of Government loans since 2015.