The people of Omoviri community in Rumuekpe, Emuoha Local Government in Rivers State have been suffering from pollution from substances suspected to be crude oil oozing from the soil. The pollutant has contaminated surface and underground water sources and polluted the soil, disrupting fishing and farming activities which are the main sources of livelihood of the community. This pollution has also given rise to health hazard as the major source of drinking water has been the contaminated river which flows from the Sombreiro into the Orashi watercourse.
By Lukas Nwachukwu
The Nigerian government suspends indefinitely the operations of the micro blogging site Twitter in Nigeria on 4th June, 2021. In an announcement made public by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stating “safety concerns”. This ban is coming few days after twitter deleted a post made by President Muhammadu Buhari, which violated “abusive behavior” policy of Twitter, and further suspended his account for 12 hours.
The Twitter ban is coming amid public debate on continuous attempt by the government to censor social media. It could be recalled that Anti-Social Media Bill was introduced by the 9th National Assembly in November 2019 to criminalize the use of the social media in peddling false or malicious information. It was seen by many as a stealthy move to restrict the civic space and was greeted by vigorous pushback by the masses and a robust response by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country.
The Twitter ban is a surreptitious method used by the government to suppress the masses, it is an attack on democratic tenet that provides for freedom of expression and an attack on human rights and independent media. By this decision, this government is treading a dangerous path with unimaginable consequences. This action undermines the foundational principles of democratic governance and the masses’ right to freedom of expression.
Social media gives voice to voiceless Nigerians, democratizing opinions and criticisms about how government should be run, giving marginalized groups a voice to talk about their plights, which obviously the government is not comfortable with. The attempt to gag the masses and muzzle free expression has potentially devastating implication for democracy and the civic space. With a staggering 33% unemployment rate in the country, many young people eke a living from social media platforms like twitter, as influencers, ad and promotion marketers etc. This ban is a deliberate and malicious decision to makes it difficult for Nigerians, both young and old to empower themselves through leveraging on the economic benefits of a platform like Twitter.
We strongly condemn the Twitter ban and the attempt by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to control social media and muzzle Nigerians from freely expressing their opinions. Therefore, the government should reverse this outrageous and dictatorial decision immediately, to restore the vibrant and diverse space Twitter provides. Anything short of this, will further define this government as a repressive and dictatorial regime with the sole purpose to make life difficult for Nigerians.
By Lukas Nwachukwu
With the ubiquitous wave of violence across the country and emerging threats of disintegration, it is crystal clear that Nigeria’s insecurity challenges are getting worse by the day. In recent weeks, there have been countless killings, kidnappings, assassination, destruction of government facilities. The seeming government’s silence in the mix of all this is stirring up bouts of savage inter-ethnic and inter-regional bloodletting in their bid to protect themselves, as it appears the government has failed to do the barest minimum of protecting lives and properties.
Over few weeks, in crude and savage attacks, Benue, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Kebbi, Borno have all recorded varying degrees of killings of children, women and men. Bandit, kidnappers, armed groups are killing, maiming, and terrorizing communities throughout different parts of the country with no apparent fear of being caught and held to account. Instead the military are going from house to house in Gestapo style arresting young men. If only the security forces can go after killer bandits and herdsmen that killed dozens in Benue and Ebonyi states and abducted 200 Islamic students, perhaps, the nation would have experienced peace and stability.
According to Amnesty International report in 2020, both the armed group Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces continued to commit serious crimes in the north-east, including war crimes and likely crimes against humanity. Boko Haram killed hundreds of civilians and carried out abductions which targeted women and girls. Amnesty International also reported that in response, government forces carried out indiscriminate attacks against villages and continued to detain thousands in inhumane conditions. In the north-western and north-central regions, over 1,500 people died in inter-communal violence and bandit attacks, while in the last three months, the country has been grappling with the continuous attacks of unknown gunmen that have left trails of destruction of lives and properties.
The country is already dealing with a staggering humanitarian catastrophe with many Nigerians displaced in the North-East and Middle belt According to a report done in April 2021, by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, following series of attacks by insurgents in north-east Nigeria’s restive Borno State, up to 65,000 Nigerians are displaced. And it is still unfolding with the recent killings in Ebonyi-Benue border that left over 30 persons dead and hundreds displaced. This does not go without stating the economic woes, and food crisis that may arise from violence across the country. It is heartbreaking that the lives of many Nigerians are at risk due to government’s negligence.
It is equally sad to note the large scale destruction of properties and wanton killings by unknown gunmen in the south-eastern part of the country. Several media reports have put the number of deaths recorded in the past week at 150, this is disheartening.. This avoidable bloodbath would deepen the distrust between the masses and the government and risk further alienation between the regions affected as they believe they are ethnically profiled, a sentiment that fans the embers and support for secession.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government represents 6 years of lackluster governance so far, his record has been weak and disappointing on the fight to address insecurity. But the nation needs the President to show leadership, rise to challenges particurly at a time like this when it seems like the nation is tilting towards a collapse. The continued silence would incentivize this violence to grow to a grand and uncontrollable scale.
We condemn the President’s silence and apparent disengagement with the insecurity challenges that Nigerians are facing. We call on the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to prioritize the lives of every Nigerian, rather than trying to sound politically correct and threatening a certain region with war, like his tweet on the 1st of June, 2021 which reads “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand”. He should show true leadership that will embody equity and justice that appeal to national cogitation and not ethnic sentiments. Furthermore, he should protect the life of every Nigerian as he swore to when he took the oath of office. The country’s deep socio-political fault lines cannot be resolved through the barrel of guns. Peace cannot be gotten through force. At a time when voices of concern citizens must be listened to, orchestrating a crusade of threat and use of force would only deepen the problem.
On-Going Constitutional Review; Civil Rights Council Rejects Another Effort in Futility
Being Text of Press Released by Civil Rights Council on This Day 1st June 2021
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we have organised this briefing to lend our voice to and state our position on the on-going constitutional review exercise in Nigeria. The Civil Rights Council is a civil society organization committed to the advancement of human rights, rule of law and democracy in Nigeria. As partner and critical stakeholder in the Nigeria project we consider it a responsibility to unequivocally state that the ongoing constitutional review process is nothing but a distraction and an attempt aimed at achieving nothing but to score cheap political points in a failed attempt to win the heart of the Nigerian masses.
Civil Rights Council, Port Harcourt, holds a lecture to educate men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp on the “fundamental human rights of citizen’s vis-à-vis, the power to arrest, investigate and the detention of suspects.” The lecture, which was in collaboration with the leadership of the NSCDC and other stakeholders, aimed to sensitize members of the Corp on how to carry out their duties effectively within the ambits of the law.
The defilement of infants and constant rape and molestation of adolescent girls and sometimes little boys is so common among the urban poor. Oftentimes, victims and their parents are too poor and ignorant to seek justice and in other cases, the fear of stigmatization and culture of silence promotes the activities of perpetrators who escape justice and continue with their criminality. This is the reason behind the setting up and inauguration of a Rapid Response Reporting Desk for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. The inauguration which took place on the 19th of May, 2021, at Chima Ubani Centre, attracted other CSOs and community-based organisations.
Over time, CRC as an organization has received reports and intervened in many cases of human rights protection and carried out education across its chapters in different states. However, it’s no news that cases of gender-based and domestic violence has become a reoccurring issue and indeed common among the urban poor prevalent in the slums. The Response Team which is a progeny of the Civil Rights Council became a necessity as the organization’s activities in human rights advocacy, protection and consolidation of the rule law covers issues surrounding domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. CRC has also received several reported cases of wife battering, leading to physical and psychological harm, forcing these women out of their marriages. The possible resultant effect of this is the exposure of the affected children to child labour and sexual exploitation and incest. Also, the male-dominant culture makes it difficult for most women to take up the initiative to divulge some of these acts of human rights abuses, often perpetrated by the male folks, to the authorities.
Therefore, in view of these developments, the need for the Rapid Response Reporting Desk to attend to these cases became a necessity especially within the Diobu axis in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. This initiative is to ensure that such cases receive adequate attention by the CRC upon occurrence so as to ensure timely response in each case. To achieve this, collaboration with the media, security operatives and other NGOs is part of the plans deployed to expand the base of this campaign.
During the inauguration lectures, questions were entertained and explanation given by the facilitators on the various dimensions of rights abuse in their communities. The participants promised to liaise with the organization and other relevant partners to fight the menace of human right abuses in all its guise in our society.
Social Action Opinion Desk
According to widely circulated reports, the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) on Wednesday 19th May, 2021, agreed to a recommendation that Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) should be fully deregulated and the pump price be increased to N385. With the socio-economic crisis rocking the nation, the proposed hike in petrol pump price to N385 is nothing short of inhuman gesture to worsen the plight of the already suffering Nigerian masses.
As the effect of covid-19 pandemic on global economy bites harder, Nigeria is not exempted, the economy hugely financed from sale of crude continues to face an unsustainable long-term fiscal decline based on the imbalance between paucity of revenue and large deficit spending. While this is the reality, both spending and revenue imbalance can get worse with unfettered corruption and poor fiscal policy decisions.
For many years, Nigerian workers, who are among the least paid in the world have suffered socio-economic hardships as the fixed stipends they receive as take home pay is hardly enough to take them home. While workers find it difficult to survive on this amount, some state governments have refused to comply with the payment of even the minimum wage. Worse is the prevailing state of insecurity which has instilled fear in people as lives are constantly under threats. In spite of these increasing spate of insecurity, the governments, rather than taking concrete step to address the root causes and arrest the situation posed by this ugly trend, have continued to patronize the criminals by negotiating with them. It has become a great cause for concern for many citizens and they wonder how long these conditions would remain?
Nigeria is daily becoming a theatre of violence with heightened cases of insecurity across the country recently. This has exacerbated challenges the country is finding difficult to tackle. The level of insecurity in Nigeria has mounted pressure on the political stability of the country, with sections of the country calling for secession.