The Insitute for Human Rights and Developments in Africa, a
non-governmental organisation, has tabled before the African
Commission of Human and Peoples’ Right the continued detention of
pro-democracy activist, Omoyele Sowore, the clampdown on journalists
and civic organizations in Nigeria.

The organization, while addressing the 65th session of the commission,
decried the growing rate of the hostility of the current government in
Nigeria towards dissent and called on the commission to intervene.

It said, “We wish to convey to the commission our continuing concerns
and alarm at the continued shrinking of civil spaces in African
countries. Many countries in the continent are finding ways to limit
the right to freedom of assembly, association, expression, and access
to information guaranteed under the African Charter.

“A growing trend is the use of cybersecurity laws to unduly limit the
access and dissemination of information as guaranteed under the
charter. In Nigeria, several journalists and civil society activists
have been arrested under the cyber crimes prohibition and prevention
act of 2015 for statements that were well within their rights of
freedom of expression."

It added, “Recently, journalist and political activist, Omoyele
Sowore, was charged with making a statement in media interviews that
were insulting to the president of Nigeria. Another journalist, Jones
Abiri, has been in detention for over two years and charged under
cybercrimes act because of a news report in the weekly source
newspaper.”

It also lamented the shutdown of internet access in some countries to
silence citizens, saying: “Similar cybercrime laws exist and have been
used to silence activists in Egypt, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. The several
States have also used internet shutdowns to silent citizens and quell
dissent.”

The organisation also enumerated how governments in various African
countries have clamped down on protests and protesters.

In Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force clamped down on the
#RevelutionNow protesters, detaining some for weeks and charging them
to court for unlawful gathering.

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