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Global Rights Report Accuses Buhari’s Administration of Civic Space Erosion

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International human rights organization Global Rights has released a scathing report accusing the administration of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari of systematically undermining civic space, freedom of expression, and the rights of protesters and journalists.

In its report titled “Shege! A scorecard on the Buhari administration’s impact on Nigeria’s civic space,” published on January 13, 2024, Global Rights highlighted a disturbing trend during Buhari’s eight-year term. The report contends that the government, instead of fostering an open democratic environment, actively engaged in threats, intimidation, and attempts to control access to information.

The organization alleges that the administration had a suspicious relationship with the media, strained ties with civil society organizations, and a clear agenda to monitor citizens’ assemblies. The report warns that if legislative attempts to restrict civic space had succeeded, Nigeria could have become one of the most repressive democracies globally.

According to Global Rights, the dark reality of the Buhari era included the killing of at least 69 protesters, along with the arrest, detention, or harassment of 250 protesters and 189 journalists. The report paints a stark picture of a government willing to quash dissent and limit civic engagement.

Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, echoed these concerns, highlighting unlawful arrests and detentions of journalists and civil society activists under Buhari’s leadership. Rafsanjani drew attention to atrocities committed against the Shiite community and criticized legal frameworks aimed at stifling civil society.

As Nigeria transitions into a new political era, with President Bola Tinubu in focus, Rafsanjani cautioned against following the repressive path witnessed during Buhari’s administration. The call for a commitment to peaceful coexistence and national development resonates amid concerns about the erosion of civic space in the country.

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