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Rights violations shock civil rights group

26 June 2014, 15:24Okoro Chinedu

Lagos - Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, expressed shock at the ongoing media and civil society crackdown in the country.

The organisation said government was employing a number of legal and extra-legal tactics to prevent the spread of information and the exercise of democratic freedoms.

“Once hailed for its progress on democratic indicators, Nigeria is fast becoming a hostile place for independent media and civil society groups, said David Kode, Policy and Research Officer at CIVICUS.

“In moves reminiscent of the days of military dictatorship in Nigeria, the media and civil society are being blamed for threatening state security.”

CIVICUS said local civil society organisations (CSOs) were extremely concerned by legislative moves to control their funding from international sources through the restrictive Foreign Donations (Regulation) Bill.

The Bill gives the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission broad discretionary powers to deny foreign funding to CSOs on vague grounds such as `likely to affect’ the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria, adverse diplomatic relations with foreign countries and religious harmony.

It said in a recent attack on media freedoms, Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on May 30 ordered broadcast houses to notify it 48 hours before the broadcast of “impromptu live political programmes.”

CIVICUS alleged some newspapers were targeted in a number of cities by the military as copies of newspapers were destroyed and delivery vans were held up and delayed to interrupt circulation through military roadblocks.

The alleged targeting of newspapers is believed to be in response to media criticism of the government’s handling of the kidnapping of over 250 girls by the outlawed Boko Haram group in Borno State in April.

It also cited the ban of protests demonstrations calling for the release of the abducted girls.

“We call on the Nigerian government to respect their international commitment to protect civil society and media freedoms,” said Kode.

– CAJ News

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