The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has condemned the attack on a global Human Rights Organization, Amnesty International, AI, at its Abuja office on Monday by a so-called civil society organization under the name GOPRI.
The attack was reported to have continued on Tuesday after the group of protesters had on Monday barricaded the Abuja office of AI demanding that organization should leave Nigeria within 24 hours.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran expressed his consternation that any civil society organization could think of attacking such a popular global organization.
He said “we are talking here about an organization with the reputation of being on the side of the less privileged and voiceless whose rights are constantly trampled up. The incidence is totally embarrassing and unacceptable. It is a move that indicate a slide back to the dark days of the military when human rights organizations and activists were hounded into exile or driven ‘underground’.
“How do we explain this? It is a bad development that could tarnish our image as country among the comity of nations. It is odd that this has happened in a country under democratic governance; a country that is a signatory to several conventions and charters of human rights, which guarantees the freedom of association, expression, assembly, movement etc.
According to him, “Before this occurrence, it was already being peddled that the government was not comfortable with some of AI’s reports on Nigeria with regard to the protection of human rights of Nigerians particularly in parts of the country where there have been violent conflicts between the security agencies and militants or insurgents. So this attack would definitely portray our country as a human rights unfriendly one.
“That the attack was led by a so-called civil society organization is disgusting. It is unheard of, unthinkable, that an organization like the AI that is welcomed with open arms by most countries and civil groups globally as a result of the positive impacts of their work could treated in this manner. Any civil group worth its salt at all would never contemplate attacking AI and that is why the elements behind the attack should be investigated because as matter of fact no organization has the right to ask AI or any other organization to leave the country. It is only the Nigerian State that possesses such powers.
“The protest is spurious and evidently sponsored for reasons best known to the sponsors. We call on the Federal Government to immediately publicly dissociate itself from the nonsensical attack and to ensure that AI continues its work in country so long as the organization violates no laws. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that no individual and groups, whether Nigerian or foreign is denied their fundamental human rights.”
“This attack and similar tendencies must not be allowed to fester; it must be nipped in the bud. Failure to do this, will definitely lead to a back-slide in the country’s democratization processes.”