The Nigerian government is arresting and intimidating journalists and protesters in an attempt to muzzle dissent, Amnesty International has said.
The rights group enunciated the blocking of a series of peaceful protests to make its point, including activists demanding the government rescue of more than 200 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, Shiite Muslims demanding the release of their illegally detained leader and separatists calling for an independent Biafra in the southeast.
The intimidation, Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday, is a “a barefaced attempt by the Nigerian government to muzzle dissenting voices.”
It also said it has documented cases of enforced disappearances and killings of pro-Biafra supporters by security forces, as well as the detention of several journalists critical of officials in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Some journalists and bloggers who have been arrested by security agencies in recent weeks include Emenike Iroegbu, Abubakar Usman and Ahmed Salkida.
“Taken together, these are worrying signs of growing violations of the rights of people in Nigeria to peacefully assemble freely and express their views without the fear of being detained or harassed,” said Makmid Kamara, Interim Country Director at Amnesty International Nigeria.
The group urged the government to halt detentions without trial and the excessive use of force.
“Alongside the security forces’ violent assault on peaceful protesters, this crackdown constitutes a growing threat to human rights enshrined in international law and the Nigerian constitution,” Kamara said.