Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Sunday, October 11, issued an urgent appeal to Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, urging her to use her “leadership position to apply the Commonwealth Charter to hold Nigerian authorities to account for widespread and persistent attacks on peaceful protesters, reports of human rights violations and abuses, corruption, impunity, as well as disregard for the rule of law.”
This appeal was signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.
The organization asked Ms. Scotland to “urgently consider recommending the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth to the Heads of Government, the Commonwealth Chair-in-office, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth, to push the government to respect the Commonwealth’s values of human rights, transparency, accountability and also the rule of law.”
According to SERAP, “Respect for Commonwealth values is essential for citizens to trust Commonwealth institutions. The Commonwealth ought to make clear that respect for human rights; also transparency; as well as the rule of law is fundamental to the integrity, functioning, and effectiveness of its institutions.”
SERAP said: “Persistent attacks on protesters have severely constrained the ability of the people to participate in their own government and to hold authorities and public officials to account for alleged corruption, and human rights violations and abuses, thereby causing serious hardships for ordinary Nigerians and undermining their rights, livelihood, and dignity.”
The letter read in part: “The ongoing events in Nigeria demonstrate the authorities’ determination to suppress all forms of peaceful dissent and freedom of expression of the Nigerian people. There are well-founded fears that the human rights situation in Nigeria will deteriorate even further if urgent action is not taken to address it.”
“These protests are taking place against a backdrop of the failure by the Nigerian government to address persistent concerns around police brutality and impunity; corruption; also lack of respect for economic and social rights of the people; as well as disregard for the rule of law.
“SERAP is concerned about a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in the country; since the assumption of office by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015.
“According to our information, the Nigerian government has continued to crackdown on peaceful protesters; including #EndSARS protesters; who are campaigning against police brutality; also corruption; as well as impunity.
“The authorities are committing other ongoing, widespread violations of human rights; including arbitrary arrests; torture and other ill-treatment; and killings in response to the exercise; by the people of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”