Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has condemned the invasion of Amnesty International’s office in Abuja, alleging that the protesters calling for the exit of the anti-corruption watchdog were paid to do so.
Falana also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to immediately stop the harassment of the organisation’s staff.
A group of protesters had on Monday barricaded the Abuja office of Amnesty International and asked the international organisation to leave Nigeria within 24 hours.
The protesters had accused AI of deliberately spreading malicious reports aimed at creating chaos in the country.
Responding to the development in a letter addressed to President Buhari, dated March 22, 2017, Falana said it was unfortunate that the police allowed the allegedly hired protesters to invade the organisation’s office in broad daylight and subject its staff to intimidation and harassment.
Falana pointed out that it was not a crime for the AI to expose the serious human rights violations and abuses allegedly committed by the military in the North-East.
According to him, the invasion of the anti-corruption watchdog office will create a climate of fear and send an intimidating message to the human rights movement in particular and the entire country in general.
The activist, therefore, called on the President to direct the police boss to fish out those behind the invasion of the AI’s office and bring them to justice.
He also urged the President to institute an independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses allegedly committed by the military in the context of the fight against Boko Haram in the North-East of the country.
The letter partly read, “I am writing to request you to use your good office and leadership position to direct the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to end the invasion of Amnesty International Office in Abuja, and the harassment of the organisation’s staff.
“I note that Amnesty International is a well-known international NGO and among other NGOs operating legally in the country. I recall that upon your election as President, you met with the leadership of Al and promised, among other things, to look into the allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses allegedly committed by the military as contained in the reports published by the organisation.
“These intruders have impeded the work of the organisation and threatened the safety and security of its members of staff who are all Nigerian citizens. Human rights work is imperative to ensure that millions of marginalised and disadvantaged Nigerians can fully enjoy their entitlements and realise their potential.
“ Therefore, consistent with the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, your government should publicly reinstate support for the legitimate work of civil society groups including AI and other international NGO operating in the country, and provide them with protection.”
Source – The Punch