Govt Attempting To Gag Human Rights Space
A former labour leader in the defunct Bendel State, Rev. Olu Aderibigbe, Tuesday, December 10th, described the Nigerian democracy system as “democracy without democrats.”
Aderibigbe who made this assertion while speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2019 edition of World Human Right Day, noted that Nigeria democracy is without democrats.
This year’s World Human Rights Day with theme: “Youth Standing up for Human Right”, was organised by Edo Civil Society Organizations.
He said, “The situation in Nigeria is that we are in democracy without democrats, or how do one explain the situation where people stole billions of naira, money belonging to Nigerians and the most they get is ten years imprisonment, but when someone talks, they will say it is hate speech and the person is to be given death sentence.
He called on Nigerians to condemn the proposed penalty for hate speech partucularly the proposed death penalty.
“We should all condemn hate speech, they did not kill the former governor, who later became a senator, he was said to have stollen billions of naira. But when someone talks, they say hate speech and the person must be hanged. Look at the way Sowore was arrested in the court, we should all stand to condemn it.
He challenged Nigerians partucularly the youths to stand for their rights and also protect what belongs to them.
Corroborating Aderibigbe’s assertions, Leftist Omobude Agho, Coordinator-General, Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), noted that this year’s Human Rights Day was United Nations call to youths to stand for their rights.
He said this year’s edition was a total shift of direction so that the younger generations wake up and take the fight of human rights and drive.
Speaking on how best the youth can know their rights, Agho noted that youths must first learn about what their right is and then take it upon themselves that it is their rights, adding that bring back civic education to the education curriculum is one of the ways.
“Youths can know their rights by first learning about what their right is, then take it upon themselves that it is their rights. I think they should also insist that government should bring back civic education to the curriculum. It must be thought in the primary as basic and then brought to the secondary and university and other higher institutions.
“Our history must be brought back, that is how we know about the past. Our society was a better society when we had all these courses in our schools. As soon as they removed them deliberately and systematically, which we were not sensitive enough, that is how we found ourselves in this mess. We now shout that we are in military era but we are in democracy”, he added.
Agho raised the alarm that the government of the day has been making everything possible to gag the human rights space in the country and to shut up everybody, stressing that this has made EDOCSO to let the younger ones know their lives is being endangered.
He noted, “And you can see presently in Nigeria partucularly on where our leaders and government is trying to shrink the human right space and to shut everybody up. So we are trying to let the younger ones know that it is not the lives of the elderly ones that is being endangered because those ones are already on their ways out, but the younger ones who are coming in, whose lives, whose destiny is about to be changed. So, they better rise as we are speaking.”
On Sowore’s recent arrest in the court room, EDOCSO C.G. decried all manners of human rights abuse perpetrated by security agencies in the country, calling on the younger ones to speak against such.
EDOCSO Public Relations officer, Leftist Osazee Edigin, said the programme was packaged to sensitise members of the public on their rights and also chart a new course for new agenda for 2020 so that people can be more equipped in knowing their fundamental human rights and enforce them accordingly.
He noted that one of the problems faced in the state was that youths are being oppressed and intimidated, while their rights are being utterly abused by security agencies
“And this has been a general problem we have been facing in Edo State, where Edo youths are being oppressed, intimidated and their rights are being abused excessively in Edo State by law enforcement agencies basically, and by some government agents by their ways of operations.
“As we speak, if you go to detention, you will be amazed by the number of youths held their. And some are their beyond Constitutional time, and even when we wrote letters to some of these institutions, some of them refused and denied us access to these detentions facilities. This is to tell you a whole lots of human rights abuses going on in these agencies and they don’t want the civil society to know”, he said
Osazee, however,scored EDOCSO high in her bid in fighting for human rights by saying that the Organisations has freed many who were illegally detained or who a huge amount were requested from for bail without paying a dime.