Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, CISLAC DG
Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, CISLAC DG

CISLAC urges Buhari to respect Rule of Law, stop shrinking civic spaces

EMERGENCY DIGEST- Today, on Democracy day, President Muhammadu Buhari is told that he is proving to be undemocratic with his governing of the country after repeated political efforts to shrink civic spaces.

In direct reference to the Twitter ban, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, says it is puzzled with the President’s handling of fundamental human right issues.

The President announced the suspension of Twitter last Friday and warned through his Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, that the continuous use of Twitter was now illegal and a prosecutable offence.

Not long after, the National Broadcasting Commission wrote to television and radio broadcasters in the country, demanding that they should deactivate their Twitter accounts immediately.

This Thursday, President Buhari gave an interview to Arise News but chose to keep his card close to his chest when asked when the ban would be lifted. He said, “I’ll keep that to myself.”

The civic group believes that these sequence of events, along with media harassment and illegal ban on protest, are “basic symptoms of the lack of necessary democratic values in the country.”

And there continue to be unlawful attempts by a few individuals or group to “undermine democratic values, inflame mayhems and public disorder” in the country, says Mr Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC.

“[These democratic values] are mistook by some individuals or groups to exacerbate insecurity, inflict tensions, killings, destructions and instabilities; as recently observed in some parts of the country,” Mr Rafsanjani said.
Mr Rafsanjani says that the Nigerian people are yet to have the hopes and expectations of the 1999 return to democracy met by any administration. Instead, they are forced to endure the growing trend of socio-economic and political challenges delivered by each administration.

CISLAC’s Demands

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre is pushing for widespread reforms in the country’s political circle. CISLAC still finds the electoral process lacking in credibility and seeks a review which would instil people-oriented blueprints in political parties.

Mr Rafsanjani said: “We demand unconditional respect for citizens’ human rights irrespective of their socio-economic and political status at all levels including recognition of their freedom of expression as a Constitutional right and not privilege.

“We call on the government at all levels to uphold and allow civic space for meaningful contribution to democratic governance in Nigeria, with demonstrated commitment to the principles of responsibility and responsiveness for good governance.

“We call for the creation of an independent and functional Electoral Offences Commission to investigate and prosecute breaches of relevant electoral provisions including vote buying and rigging.

“We further demand immediate investigation and prosecution of the recent killings of innocent citizens and security personnel in various parts of the country to demonstrate social justice, reinforce peaceful co-existence and responsive governance.”

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