CSOs worried over threat to freedom of expression

Posted by News Express | 28 November 2018 | 1,078 times

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Civil Society Groups in Nigeria have expressed deep concerns over what they described, as a ‘threat to civic right to expression and association’.

The groups expressed worries over recent attacks by security personnel preventing Nigerians from embarking on protests and assaults on journalists.

They said that such acts amounted to infringement on citizens’ rights to association and appealed for the maintenance of a safe space for people to voice their grievances without government interference.

At an event tagged Speak, held in Abuja two groups–Oxfam and Connected Development, moblised youths across board to demand for national unity and peaceful coexistence in what they described as a safe space to speak.

According to the groups, as 2019 elections draw near,there is need to strengthen the freedom of expression and association as an integral component of democracy.

The Head of Public Engagement, OXFAM Nigeria, Abdulazeez Musa,said with recent assaults against journalists and protesters, there was need to create a safe civil space for people to express themselves.

“The civic space in Nigeria has increasingly be closing,depends on how you see it.

“The fact that we have some bills in the National Assembly trying to restrict the use of social media, or journalists being jailed for a report is scary.

“As well as people being stopped from protesting peacefully is worrisome.

“So with this alternative space, we intend to engage the citizens on their rights as well as responsibilities” he said.

Founder of Connected Development, Hamza Lawal, on his part, said that engaging citizens in public discourse, would increase government’s accountability.

He called on youths to shun political thuggery in the discharge of their civic responsibilities.

“This ‘speak’ event is a global movement to encourage youths especially to engage in topical debates and familiarize them with important demands,to look out for in candidates of their choice.

“We want them to freely express themselves and help reinforce good ideas and dissuade wrong perceptions, as well as encouraging use the power of the social media in particular to press for changes,” he added. (NAN)

From left: Head, Influencing and Public Engagement, Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr Abdulazeez Musa; Lead Civil Space Mainstreaming, Mr Henry Ushie; Chief Executive Officer, Connected Development (CODE), Mr Hamza Lawal, and the Coordinator, Bumkeng Selizz Care Foundation, Bumkeng Elizabeth, during a Public Forum on “Speak” organize by CODE and Oxfam to foster unity in our community, in Abuja.

Source: News Express

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