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SERAP Writes Trump, Seeks Travel Ban For Governors Jailing Journalists, Others

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the US President Donald Trump asking him to exercise his constitutional powers “pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 to instruct the US Secretary of State and US Ambassador in Nigeria to temporarily ban Nigerian state governors and other senior public officials misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists reporting on allegations of corruption from entering the US.”

SERAP also urged Mr Trump to “use Presidential Proclamation 8697 (which allows the US Department of State to deny visas to foreign officials, their families and friends) who participate in serious human rights violations and other abuses such as misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists to prevent them from reporting on allegations of corruption and other related cases.”

The letter followed SERAP’s report titled “A Downward Spiral: How Federal and State Authorities are Tightening the Screws on Media Freedom in Nigeria” and launched today in Lagos.

In the letter dated 30 October 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Democracy demands ‘maximum disclosure’ of all government held information, and this won’t happen without respect for media freedom and the citizens’ rights to know. Undue restrictions on media freedom and the right to know would imply nothing short of abrogation of the ideals of democracy and good governance. Citizens’ right to know is vital for social welfare and other human rights.”

SERAP also said, “Media freedom and the right of citizens to know constitute a crucial bulwark of democracy. It is essential for the general progress of a democratic society if people are to effectively monitor their government’s affairs and democratically participate in the running of society, they must have access to government-held information, which the media should be allowed to freely report.”

SERAP’s report documents the increasing cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detention and deaths of journalists, bloggers and other media workers while carrying out their legitimate work

SERAP’s letter read in part: “Specifically, the report documents cases of attacks on journalists, bloggers and activists reporting on allegations of corruption and related matters in the following states of Nigeria: Cross River state; Abia state; Ebonyi state; Kano state; Jigawa state; Bauchi state; and Kaduna state.”

“Also, 109 journalists were attacked between 2010 and 2015, and several more journalists, bloggers, radio and TV stations and activists have been targeted since 2015. At least 36 attacks on journalists were recorded between January and July 2019 alone, 30 of the attacks happening during the 2019 general elections.”

“The attacks and harassment include arbitrary arrests and detention, physical attacks and even deaths. In 2018, at least 45 radio and TV stations were sanctioned by the authorities on unfounded allegations of breaching some codes of conduct.”

“Proactive initiatives to protect media freedom and human rights that would invariably contribute to transparency and accountability globally have always been in the best long-term interests of the US. Your application of targeted sanctions would reaffirm US commitments to human rights, and media freedom and help to supplement the criminal justice in Nigeria and be entirely consistent with the US international obligations.

“SERAP believes that your government’s imposition of targeted sanctions against those accused of misusing the criminal justice system to attack, intimidate, harass and jail journalists, bloggers and activists in Nigeria would help to deter other state governments, governors and other senior public officials from limiting the enjoyment of Nigerians’ right to information about what their government is doing in their names.”

“Such sanctions would not violate due process and presumption of innocence principles, as long as the reasons for the sanctions are communicated to those that may be affected, as what is recommended is a temporary travel ban. We argue that the imposition of temporary travel bans on public officials complicit in violation of media freedom and preventing reporting of allegations of corruption is a preventive and not punitive measure.”

“SERAP therefore urges you to apply the presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 as instruments of foreign policy to promote targeted sanctions against state governments, governors and other senior public officials in Nigeria, just as the US has for many years applied targeted sanctions, including imposing travel restrictions on systematic violations of human rights.”

“SERAP believes that applying presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 as recommended would be very helpful to Nigeria’s efforts to protect media freedom, improve transparency and accountability and generally ensure full respect for the human rights of journalists, bloggers and activists across Nigeria. It would also facilitate equivalent visa bans in other globally desirable locations as well.”

“SERAP hopes that you will exercise your constitutional powers to promote human rights, media freedom, transparency and accountability in Nigeria.”

“SERAP also notes that Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 underscore the important role of the media in the establishment of legitimate and transparent public institutions to world stability, peace, and development.”

“The proclamations note the US ‘enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law’, which requires that its Government be able to ensure that the US does not become a safe haven for suspected violators of human rights and other abuses. They also aim to help the US authorities to secure peace, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, and strengthen democracies around the globe.”

“Significantly, the Presidential Proclamations underscore that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of certain persons who are suspected to be involved in serious violations of human rights, humanitarian law and other abuses.”

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TOUCHING: Troops Renovate Road Leading to Boko Haram Hideout in Borno

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The Nigerian Army has maintained its onslaught against Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters.

The gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have left no stone unturned in its bid to totally wipe out the fleeing insurgents.

As seen in some photos that went viral on social media a couple of months ago, the troops were pictured constructing a bridge leading to secret hideout of the radical Islamic sect.

Yet again, the gallant troops have displayed selflessness and rare patriotism.

This time around, though, the troops proved that they are not only engaged in the counter insurgency operations but are also working hard to mend the abandoned roads into the areas.

The gallant troops of Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole were spotted fixing bad portions of the road from Monguno-Kekeno-Cross Kauwa, Borno State.

It will be recalled that no fewer than 50 Boko Haram fighters were killed by the Nigerian Army around the said road in April.

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Human Rights Coalition Lauds Indian Government Over Ban of Amnesty International

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The Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria (CHRMGN) has hailed India for the ban meted on international non-governmental organization, Amnesty International (AI).

Following suspicious activities, the Asian nation in 2014 began a crack down on foreign NGOs, suspending or banning thousands of groups, many working in health or the environment, for receiving money from abroad

AI recently received the chop, for amongst others, violating foreign exchange regulations through taking money from its London-based parent.

The Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria has advised the Nigerian government to take a leaf from its Indian counterparts, especially after several evidence against the supposed humanitarian group.

The group made this known at a press conference on Saturday in Abuja on the need to commence investigation on source of funding of Amnesty International and other NGOs operating in the country.

In a statement signed by Gabriel Agibi, the coalition revealed that this has become imperative owing to the nature of NGOs activities and how their actions, in many instances, have caused security threats in the country.

The group said it came to this conclusion after stakeholder’s emergency general meeting.

The group recounts how the AI, on numerous occasions, attempted to undermine the progress of the Nigerian military in the North-East.

According to them, if relevant authorities in Nigeria fail to commence detailed investigations into the sources of funding of the NGOs in Nigeria, it may hamper the fight against terrorism.

Read full press statement:

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria dedicated to assessing and monitoring the level of human rights compliance of critical organs of government in Nigeria wishes to bring to the notice of the relevant authorities in Nigeria on the need for detailed investigations into the sources of funding of Amnesty International ( AI) and other NGO’s operating in Nigeria.

This is given the suspect nature of the activities of NGOs in operation in Nigeria and how their actions, in many instances, have caused security threats in the country.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups, having studied the recent happenings in India, where Amnesty International was caught in the web of illicit funds transactions, views the development as worrisome given the global posture on human rights by Amnesty international. This is aside from the fact that Amnesty International has, in numerous instances, constituted themselves as parallel governments in countries where they operate.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria after a stakeholder’s emergency general meeting came up with the unanimous decision for the Nigerian authorities to commence immediate investigations into the funding of the operations and activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria.

This is highly recommended given the threat terrorism has posed in Nigerian and around the world, where terrorist organisations have perfected the art of using NGOs to transfer illicit funds for the operations of their affiliates all around the world.

The Nigerian authorities must also, as a matter of urgency, launch an investigation into the operations and funding of other NGOs operating in Nigeria to identify their sources of funding.

The Nigerian authorities must treat this call as a matter of urgency in the best interest of the generality of Nigerians who have been subjected to untold hardship as a result of the nefarious activities of some NGOs who have been collaborating with some foreign interest to undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to state that there is multiple evidence to suggest that the bulk of the NGOs operating in Nigeria have ulterior motives aimed at causing unrest in Nigeria.

The situation in North-East Nigeria provides us with vivid examples of how the NGOs have been undermining the efforts of the Military in the fight against terrorism. Worthy of mention is Amnesty International in its annual reports accusing the Nigerian Military of Human Rights violations, which is, in most instances, fabrications and half-truths.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to state in unequivocal terms that should the relevant authorities in Nigeria fail to commence detailed investigations into the sources of funding of the NGOs in Nigeria, the fight against terrorism in Nigeria would continue to remain a mirage.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to commend the Indian authorities in India for taking the bold step of expelling Amnesty International from their country for nefarious acts.

It is expected that the Nigerian Authorities should learn from the Indian example and act in the best interest of the country if we are desirous of winning the war against terrorism in Nigeria.

The Nigerian authorities must also act decisively in dealing with NGOs found to be operating against extant laws in Nigeria.

The Indian example should serve as an eye-opener on the activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria and other places where it operates and why Nigerians should disregard the constant fabrications in its annual reports.

The activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria have been suspect as echoed in times past in numerous forums, especially with its constant attacks against the operations of the Nigerian Military in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria, as well as its tactic support to other militant groups in Nigeria such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The Nigerian Authorities must act now as a matter of urgency in commencing investigations not just on the source of funding of Amnesty International as well as other NGOs in operation in Nigeria, it must also put in place measures that would keep NGOs operating in Nigeria in check.

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It’s Part of Third Term Agenda, Says Falana Over Attack on Media

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the current administration might be plotting a third term agenda.

According to PUNCH, Falana said this in Lagos while speaking at the presentation of a book entitled: “Testimony to Courage”, written in honour of Dapo Olorunyomi, Premium Times publisher.

The lawyer said the country had “gone to the dogs” and only the media could save it.

“The media must not be silenced. You may have a third term campaign soon,” he said.

“Very soon, they will destroy all possible opponents. And by the time they bring in the third term agenda, the media would have been gone. But we are not going to allow it. No dictatorship can defeat the Nigerian people.”

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) expressed dismay at the way Ijeoma Ojukwu, a judge of a federal high court in Abuja, is handling the case of Omoyele Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement.

“Nobody has been given the kind of bail (condition) Sowore was given. All those who looted the treasury have never had their movement restricted. Sowore has been granted bail, but his movement has been restricted to Abuja. His family is in America,” he said.

“He does not live in Abuja. He has no house in Abuja. Yet, he has been asked to stay in Abuja. The trial may last for 10 years, but he cannot leave Abuja. It has never happened in Nigeria before.

“Sowore has been banned as a journalist from speaking. As a politician, he cannot address a rally until the case is determined. We don’t know how long it will last.”

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