A group of civil society organisations in Nigeria has bemoaned the steady decline of democracy under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group comprises Enough Is Enough (EIE) Nigeria, Paradigm Initiative, Media Rights Agenda, and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
Citing a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the civil societies claimed, in a statement on Thursday, that Nigerian democracy rating has moved in a sloppy direction of 4.62, 4.50, 4.44, 4.44, 4.12, and 4.10 successively since Buhari took over power in 2015.
At an event held on September 13, 2021, to mark 100 days of Twitter ban, the group had described the government’s speech censorship as a war against democracy.
A speaker at the event, Ayode Longe, the Director of Programmes, Media Rights Agenda, highlighted the civil societies’ efforts in ensuring that the government acted in accordance with the law.
He noted that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) and 176 Nigerians sued the Federal Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to prevent the prosecution and harassment of Nigerians still using Twitter. According to him, EIE also filed a five billion naira lawsuit against four telecommunication companies for infringing on citizens’ rights in favour of the government.
“Despite the legal actions,” Longe said, “the Nigerian Government has stuck to its guns.”
Speaking at the event, Yemi Adamolekun, the Executive Director of Enough Is Enough (EIE) Nigeria, said the government has continuously abused free speech and ignored issues like insecurity, unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. She also compared President Buhari’s administration with the past military regimes during which people lived in fear of persecution.
“Let’s not forget, as a people, we were not taught what democracy is,” she said. “What a lot of us grew up understanding is the military rule, and in the military, you keep yourself to yourself, nobody wants to die (and) nobody wants to end up in jail.”
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