A group of civil society organisations have blasted Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, over his claim that some non-governmental organisations are working to destabilise Nigeria.
In February, the minister had spoken on the reactions to the seven-month Twitter ban in the country that was lifted in January.
Mohammed had in his comment accused some NGOs of colluding with foreigners against Nigeria.
But in a joint statement by Enough is Enough Nigeria, Media Rights Agenda, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, and Paradigm Initiative, the CSOs faulted the minister’s comment.
The CSOs called on Mohammed to name and prosecute non-governmental organisations he accused of working to destabilise Nigeria.
They also described the allegation as a “reckless attempt to incite Nigerians against NGOs and undermine their credibility”.
The statement reads, “We wish to state that the opposite is actually true – it is Nigerian NGOs that are striving to save Nigeria from being destabilised in the face of relentless efforts by Mr Mohammed and others like him in the government who are afraid of freedom of expression and other fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by all citizens of a democratic country.
“Mr. Mohammed apparently believes that being a Minister gives him the authority to be the accuser, judge and jury and that anyone who disagrees with him or criticises him, or the government he serves, is an enemy of the state.
“He could not be more wrong! In a constitutional democracy, citizens have a right and indeed a responsibility, either individually or in groups, to criticise their government and to insist that the government respects their fundamental rights and freedoms, within the laws of the land.
“We remain convinced that the government’s action was illegal and unwarranted. It was further evidence of the commitment of President Buhari’s administration to close civic spaces and clamp down on the rights of citizens.”
The CSOs challenged Mohammed to release the list of the NGOs he accused of working to destabilise Nigeria and “proceed to prosecute them in accordance with Nigeria’s laws”.
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