Our attention has been drawn to renewed threats on the lives of members of staff of Amnesty international by a faceless group which calls itself Center for Africa Liberation and Socio-Economic Rights (CALSER). Although the group claims to be a civil society organization. Suspicion is rife in some quarters that they may just be agents of the Nigerian repressive state which is hell bent on silencing credible voices exposing the atrocities of the government, including gross violations of peoples’ rights.
In a recorded video, the group threatened to attack the offices of Amnesty International at Abuja to kill members of staff and supporters of the organization.
Amnesty International is one of the strongest international human rights organizations in the country. They have been very consistently holding authorities to account for their human rights obligations and commitments. They are not cowards and cannot be bought, hence the cheap and wicked attacks orchestrated to distract, silence and intimidate them.
We are worried that if they succeed in silencing Amnesty International, it will become easier for government and her agents to cage the human rights community in general. Already, the worst form of repression is going on presently, with innocent citizens being harassed, haunted and bundled into detention and subjected to all forms of persecution.
We therefore consider the threats on Amnesty International and its members of staff as a threat to the Nigerian human rights community and all that it stands for. This is unacceptable and condemnable, and we strongly condemn it.
In a society like Nigeria where insecurity has assumed a frightening dimension, the issue of threat to people’s lives should not be taken lightly or wished away.
We hereby urge the government to ensure that a full and impartial investigation is undertaken into the threats, that the results be made public and those responsible be brought to justice. We also urge the government to take serious steps to prevent the killers from carrying out their death wish against the staff of Amnesty international.
The Nigerian Authorities owe a legal duty to ensure the protection of lives and properties of every human being in the country. This includes Amnesty International Staff and partners. The government must ensure that they are protected, and the issuers of the threat must be arrested and held accountable for their sinister plot. It is only by arresting and bringing them to book that the Nigerian authorities can exonerate themselves from the plots against Amnesty International and the human rights community. This threat can incite violence on a reputable and hardworking organization merely carrying out its duty.
Above all, we call on the international community, to not only prevail on the government of Nigeria to bring those behind the threats to book, and guarantee the safety and security of Amnesty International’s staff, but to hold the Nigerian government responsible if any harm befalls any member of staff of the human rights organization. A stitch in time saves nine. People cannot publicly make such terrorist statements and go free.
We further call on the international community to prevail on the government of Nigeria to end the siege and war of attrition declared by it on the human rights community. The civic space has continuously been shrinking, witnessing worst clampdown, with law abiding citizens being haunted, terrorized and persecuted for merely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Styvn Obodoekwe : Center for Environment Human Rights and
Karl Chinedu Uchegbu: Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, South
Emem J. Okon: Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre
Vivian Bellonwu : Social Action
Michael Gbarale: Rainbow Watch Coalition
Constance Meju: Center for Media Environment and Development
Patrick Chiekwe: FOCONE
Kentebe Ebiriador: ERA/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Celestine Akpobari : Ogoni Solidarity Forum, OSF
Onyekachi Okoro : Media Awareness and Justice Initiative
Laura Livoti: Spark Lab, USA