The Sterling Law Centre, a prominent Nigerian human rights organization, has raised alarm over the “shrinking civic space” in the country under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.In a press statement, the group expressed concern about the recent arrest and prosecution of peaceful protesters demonstrating against rising food costs and living expenses.
“The right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of any democracy,” the statement emphasized, criticizing the government’s actions as an “assault on this basic right.”
The group demanded the immediate release of detained protesters and urged the government to drop all charges, calling them “unwarranted” and targeting those “merely voicing their legitimate concerns.”
Furthermore, the statement condemned the reintroduction of a bill seeking to regulate the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Nigeria.”NGOs play a pivotal role in protecting civic space and promoting citizen rights,” the statement noted, highlighting the critical role these organizations play in addressing societal issues and ensuring accountability.The Sterling Law Centre called for the complete rejection of the NGO bill, arguing that it undermines “the rights and freedoms that Nigerians hold dear.”
Concluding the statement, the group urged the government to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with its citizens, emphasizing collaboration as the key to addressing pressing national issues.
“A vibrant and unencumbered civil society is essential for fostering a just and democratic society,” the statement concluded, urging President Tinubu’s administration to move away from suppressing dissent and instead embrace active engagement with its people.