Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, to hold the Nigerian government to account over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
The organisation frowned at repression of human rights, freedom of expression, access to information, media freedom and flagrant disregard for the rule of law by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government.
It advised Scotland “to consider recommending the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth to the Heads of Government”.
The body also called on Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, to push the Buhari’s administration to take concrete measures to respect and promote the values of human rights, transparency and accountability.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, in an urgent appeal, told the Commonwealth that the Nigerian government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not committed to protecting human rights.
In the letter copied António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, SERAP wants the Commonwealth to take a clear stand to ensure accountability of institutions, freedom of expression and access to information in Nigeria.
The letter read in part, “Nigerians can only freely participate in the democratic processes and shape the society in which they live if these fundamental human rights are fully and effectively respected, protected and promoted.
“The Nigerian government has also called for the prosecution of those who violate its order suspending Twitter operations in Nigeria. This order for prosecution of Twitter users violates the legal rule that there should be no punishment without law.
“The principle that only the law can define a crime and prescribe a penalty (nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege) is a fundamental part of Nigerian constitutional jurisprudence.”
SERAP said allowing citizens to freely exercise their human rights without threat of reprisal or prosecution would enable them to contribute to society on issues of transparency, accountability, good governance and integrity.
“The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria demonstrates the authorities’ determination to suppress all forms of peaceful dissent by 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”, the organisation added.