The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has taken a swipe at the recent show of human rights violations, and state-sanctioned attacks aimed at silencing critical citizens’ voices, especially in the wake of the #EndSARS protests.
The Executive Director of the centre, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said on Sunday in a statement that the attempt by the government to further muzzle voices demanding an end to police brutality and accountable governance, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently obtained an ex parte order to freeze accounts of individuals said to be funding the #EndSARS protests is condemnable.
According to him, such a draconian and retrogressive move at a time the government claims it is listening to the demands of the protesters, constitutes a brazen infringement on citizens’ rights, as spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution.
“Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution gives the most fundamental legal approval to the peaceful #EndSARS protests. It clearly states that “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons…
“There is no mistake in the fact that the #EndSARS protests represent a culmination of citizens’ decades-long demand for an end to human rights abuses, as represented by the brutal policing system which assails the dignity of the ordinary citizen. Since the advent of Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation in 1999, the process of governance has not translated into better outcomes for citizens.
“The use of the instrument of peaceful protests to draw attention to the plight of citizens is not a criminal act. For us therefore, the freeze order on the account of perceived protest leaders is a misuse of effort and state resources. If the CBN used the same zeal and energy to trace the financiers of Boko Haram, kidnapping, banditry and the other urgent challenges to national security, it is possible those menaces would have been dealt with by now,” Zikirullahi said.
He said that to deploy the institutions of the state, including the CBN, and the courts to freeze the bank accounts of protest leaders, in such a brazen manner makes it clear that the government is not sincere about the ongoing efforts to ensure justice for victims of police brutality.
“Also, the resort to repressive tactics by the government serves as an indicator that it will take no step to address the other wider concerns, which fuelled the protests,” he said.
He therefore urged individuals affected by the freeze orders not to despair, but to remain steadfast despite the tactics being employed by the state to harass and intimidate them.