• Age qualifications to hold political office: a civil society experience from Nigeria

    Open contribution by Henry Udemeh, Grassroots Development Support and Rural Enlightenment Initiative (GDEV), Nigeria


  • CIVICUS UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on eight countries to the UN Human Rights Council in advance of the 31st UPR session (November 2018). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the second UPR cycle over 4-years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.

    Countries examined: Chad, China, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Senegal

    Chad EN or FR -CIVICUS and Réseau Des Défenseurs Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) examine ongoing attacks on and intimidation, harassment and judicial persecution of HRDs, leaders of citizen movements and CSO representatives. We further discuss restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and association in Chad including through lengthy bans and violent repression of protests and the targeting of unions which protest against austerity measures or the reduction of salaries for workers.

    China - CIVICUS and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) outline serious concerns related to the escalation of repression against human rights defenders, particularly since 2015, which Chinese activists described as one of the worst years in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful activism. The submission also describes unlawful restrictions on the freedom of association, including through the Charity Law and the Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations. CIVICUS and AHRC call on the government of China to immediately release all HRDs arrested as part of the “709 crackdown” and repeal all laws restricting civic space in China.

    Jordan -CIVICUS, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and Phenix Center highlight the lack of implementation of recommendations on the right to freedom of association. Current legislation governing the formation and operation of civil society organisations (CSOs), including trade unions, imposes severe restrictions on the establishment and operation of CSOs. We are also concerned by the restrictive legal framework that regulates the right to freedom of expression and the authorities’ routine use of these laws to silent critical voices.

    Malaysia - CIVICUS and Pusat KOMAS highlight a range of restrictive laws used to constrain freedom of association and to investigate and prosecute government critics and peaceful protesters, in their exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We also raise concerns about the harassment of and threats against HRDs as well as the increasing use of arbitrary travel bans by the government to deter their freedom of movement.

    Mexico (ES) - CIVICUS and the Front for the Freedom of Expression and Social Protest (Frente por la Libertad de Expresión y la Protesta Social - FLEPS) address concerns regarding the threats, attacks and extrajudicial killings of HRDs and journalists for undertaking their legitimate work. The submission further examines the multiple ways in which dissent is stifled through stigmatisation, criminalisation and violent suppression of social protests and restrictions on freedom of expression and independent media.

    Nigeria - CIVICUS and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNGO) examine the difficult operating environment for journalists who are routinely harassed, beaten and sometime killed for carrying out their journalistic work. CIVICUS and the NNGO are concerned by the actions of some officers of the Department of State Services who are at the forefront of persecuting human rights defenders.

    Saudi Arabia - CIVICUS, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) address Saudi Arabia’s continued targeting and criminalization of civil society and human rights activists, particularly under the auspices of its counter-terror laws, which severely undermine the freedoms of association, expression and assembly.

    Senegal - CIVICUS and the Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (COSEDDH) document a number of violations of the freedom of expression and restrictions on media outlets. In particular we discuss the continued criminalisation of press offences in the new Press Code, including criminal defamation, among other restrictive provisions. Since its last UPR examination, implementation gaps were found with regard to the rights to the freedom of expression and issues relating to the freedom of peaceful assembly.


  • Civil Society “Contested and Under Pressure”, says new report

    Read this press release in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish

    Civil society around the globe is “contested and under pressure” according to a 22-country research findings report released by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). The report, Contested and Under Pressure: A Snapshot of the Enabling Environment of Civil Society in 22 Countries, brings together insights from Enabling Environment National Assessments (EENA) conducted around the world between 2013 and 2016.


  • Colaboración, el recurso clave para detener la MGF en 5 comunidades en Nigeria

    Este artículo es parte de la serie #HistoriasDeResiliencia, coordinada por CIVICUS para destacar los esfuerzos de grupos y activistas que promueven mejores prácticas de financiación y movilización de recursos valiosos para la sociedad civil.


    En este blog, Dolapo Olaniyan, directora de The UnCUT Initiative, comparte por qué la colaboración podría ser el “el nuevo recurso económico” para las organizaciones de la sociedad civil que se enfrentan a barreras de financiación.    


  • Collaboration as currency, key to stop FGM in 5 communities in Nigeria


    This article is part of the #StoriesOfResilience series, coordinated by CIVICUS to feature groups and activists on their journey to promote better resourcing practices for civil society and to mobilise meaningful resources to sustain their work.


    Today, Dolapo Olaniyan, Director of The UnCUT Initiative, shares why collaboration could be the new currency for civil society organisations that are facing funding constraints.

    Last February, five communities in Asa village, located in the Osun state, South West Nigeria, unanimously and publicly agreed to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – a harmful, cruel and extremely discriminatory practice recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, but that is still common in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This is a big victory in a country where FGM affects 25% women (aged 15-49). It was also a victory for us at The UnCUT Initiative, an organisation focused on ending female genital mutilation across high risk communities in Nigeria by 2030, as the public “abandonment ceremony” was the culmination of work started in October 2018.


  • Consolidating democracy in Nigeria: the need to promote electoral integrity

    Open submission by Okezie Kelechukwu, Executive Director, Neighbourhood Environment Watch (NEW) Foundation,


  • NIGERIA : « Le tollé mondial suscité par la mort de George Floyd renouvelle l’appel à la responsabilité de la police »

    CIVICUS s’entretient avec Nelson Olanipekun, avocat spécialisé dans les droits humains et fondateur et chef d’équipe de Citizens’ Gavelle (« le maillet des citoyens »), une organisation nigériane de technologie civique qui s’efforce d’accélérer l’administration de la justice en favorisant l’accès à la justice, la participation des citoyens et l’utilisation des technologies numériques. Citizens’ Gavel a été fondé en 2017, en réaction au manque de transparence et de responsabilité dans le secteur de la justice.


  • Nigeria: ‘If passed, the NGO Bill will reduce the ability of CSOs to hold the government accountable and ensure that human rights are respected’

    CIVICUS speaks to Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi, Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) about the draconian NGO bill under consideration by Nigerian lawmakers and the implications that it would have for civil society. Based in Lagos, NNNGO supports Nigerian NGOs in their commitment to reduce poverty, promote human rights and spread the benefits of development among all people. NNNGO provides a range of services and opportunities to help its members achieve their organisational aims and exert influence on issues relevant to the national agenda.


  • NIGERIA: ‘La protesta antirracista global renovó el reclamo para que la policía rinda cuentas’

    CIVICUS conversa con Nelson Olanipekun, abogado de derechos humanos y fundador y líder del equipo de Citizens’ Gavel, una organización nigeriana de tecnología cívica que trabaja para aumentar la velocidad de la impartición de justicia mediante la promoción del acceso a la justicia, la participación ciudadana y el uso de tecnologías digitales. Citizens’ Gavel fue fundada en 2017, en reacción a la falta de transparencia y rendición de cuentas en el sector de la justicia.

    Nelson Olanipekun1

    ¿Qué tipo de trabajo hace Citizens’ Gavel?

    Citizens’ Gavel es una organización de la sociedad civil (OSC) con sede en Nigeria. Fue establecida hace tres años para hacer frente a la lentitud de los procesos judiciales, promover la rendición de cuentas y ofrecer apoyo legal. Nuestro principal objetivo es aumentar la eficacia de la impartición de justicia a través de la tecnología, la incidencia y el cabildeo estratégico, y reducir las violaciones de derechos humanos a través de políticas e incidencia legal. Actualmente estamos trabajando en conjunto con otras OSC en la reforma legal. En ese sentido, estamos tratando de convertirnos en un actor relevante en los procesos de formulación de políticas que afectan los derechos fundamentales de la ciudadanía nigeriana.

    Trabajamos con casos que involucran problemas que van desde el encarcelamiento masivo hasta la falta de procesos digitalizados en el sector de la justicia. El proceso de administración de justicia en Nigeria es uno de los más lentos de África; en consecuencia, tenemos una elevada proporción de personas encarceladas en espera de juicio. Alrededor del 70% del total de personas encarceladas están esperando su juicio; apenas el 30% tienen condena. En 2017 presentamos una demanda colectiva en nombre de más de 500 personas que esperaban su juicio en prisión en el estado de Oyo. Estas personas ya habían pasado varios años en la cárcel, pese a que la ley establece que se puede retener a los acusados durante un máximo de 28 días antes de llevarlos ante los tribunales. También digitalizamos los listados de causas de más de 30 tribunales de Nigeria y nos concentramos en mejorar la cooperación entre los actores del sector judicial.

    Brindamos representación legal gratuita para los detenidos con prisión preventiva que no pueden pagar un abogado. Hemos desarrollado programas y aplicaciones para que las víctimas de abusos de derechos humanos y sus familias puedan buscar ayuda legal fácilmente. Entre ellos se destaca Podus, una plataforma tecnológica que permite a las personas con prisión preventiva conectarse con el abogado pro bono que se encuentre más cerca. Esta plataforma fue creada específicamente para jóvenes que no tienen fácil acceso a abogados o a los programas de justicia. Contamos con más de 160 abogados en 24 estados de Nigeria y con un equipo legal de respuesta rápida de siete abogados. Hasta ahora hemos resuelto 1.500 casos. Otra aplicación de tecnología que desarrollamos para el área de justicia es el Reloj de la Justicia (Justice Clock), una plataforma tecnológica que calcula la cantidad de tiempo que los reclusos pasan detenidos y la cantidad de días que los sospechosos pasan en juicio en comparación con lo que disponen la Ley de Administración de Asuntos Penales y otras leyes. La plataforma también ofrece un espacio donde los actores del sector de la justicia -el poder judicial, la policía, los fiscales y los funcionarios penitenciarios- pueden informarse sobre las mejores prácticas internacionales y mejorar su trabajo. Hemos colaborado estrechamente con el estado de Ogun para implementar con éxito el Reloj de la Justicia de modo que el sector de la justicia, y específicamente el director del Ministerio Público y el Comisionado de Justicia del estado de Ogun, se aseguraran de que se respetaran los plazos constitucionales dentro de los cuales los acusados en espera de juicio pueden permanecer encarcelados.

    Hacemos un seguimiento de los casos que involucran violencia sexual y de género (VSG), tomamos casos de brutalidad policial, monitoreamos las campañas anticorrupción y los casos de corrupción para brindar información relevante al público, y abogamos por las personas indigentes y las conectamos a través de la tecnología. Nuestra preocupación por esta población surgió de la constatación de que el número de personas pobres que permanecen presas en espera de juicio va en aumento. Si no reciben ninguna ayuda, los acusados sin medios económicos pasan mucho tiempo en la cárcel por delitos menores, simplemente porque no pueden pagar la fianza ni sobornar a la policía. También son vulnerables y pueden ser obligados a confesar delitos que no cometieron y en consecuencia puede que terminen pasando en prisión períodos aún más prolongados.

    Citizens’ Gavel también trabaja en el tema del abuso policial. ¿Cuál es la situación en Nigeria, y cómo resonaron localmente las protestas globales provocadas por la muerte de George Floyd en los Estados Unidos?

    La brutalidad policial es un gran problema en Nigeria y llevamos bastante tiempo trabajando en el tema. En abril de 2019, por ejemplo, instamos a la Policía de Nigeria para que realizara una evaluación de la salud mental a los oficiales que habían cometido abusos o asesinatos; caso contrario iniciaríamos acciones legales.

    En Nigeria, la protesta global ante la muerte de George Floyd renovó el reclamo de que la policía rinda cuentas y la gente comenzó a compartir historias de sus interacciones con agentes de policía. En conjunción con los problemas locales preexistentes, el incidente ocurrido en los Estados Unidos y sus resonancias globales realzaron las voces locales que se pronunciaban contra la brutalidad policial. Tuvimos la oportunidad de contribuir a este movimiento abordando las quejas que los ciudadanos nos hicieron llegar y continuamos trabajando para garantizar que los policías culpables rindan cuentas de sus actos.

    ¿De qué modo se han profundizado los problemas de derechos humanos durante la pandemia de COVID-19?

    En cuanto comenzó la pandemia hubo un aumento de los casos de brutalidad policial relacionados con la aplicación de las medidas de confinamiento y el control del cumplimiento de los protocolos sanitarios. Las interacciones entre ciudadanos y agentes de policía aumentaron y como resultado de ello hubo más denuncias en contra de agentes de policía. Hacia abril de 2020, parecían ser más las personas muertas a manos de la policía que las fallecidas a causa del COVID-19. Además, los abusos cometidos por la Unidad del Escuadrón Especial Antirrobo de la Fuerza de Policía de Nigeria continuaron durante la pandemia, y las autoridades siguieron sin procesar a los agentes que cometieron actos de tortura y delitos violentos, en su mayoría contra hombres jóvenes de bajos ingresos.

    Otra epidemia de larga data, la de la VSG, también floreció bajo la pandemia. Antes de la pandemia, alrededor del 30% de las mujeres y niñas de entre 15 y 49 años de edad habían sufrido abusos sexuales. Al tiempo que previenen los brotes del virus, las medidas de confinamiento representan una amenaza creciente para la seguridad de mujeres y niñas, ya que obliga a las víctimas de VSG a permanecer encerradas junto con sus abusadores. Entre marzo y abril de 2020, las denuncias de VSG aumentaron 149%. El confinamiento también comprometió la disponibilidad y el acceso a servicios, ya que muchos centros y refugios para víctimas de VSG cerraron o redujeron la gama de servicios que brindaban. Como resultado, estos servicios esenciales estuvieron en falta precisamente en el momento en que las sobrevivientes más los necesitaban.

    En respuesta a esta situación, Citizens’ Gavel aumentó la cantidad de casos de VSG que maneja. Estamos haciendo todo lo que podemos teniendo en cuenta que las reuniones físicas y las intervenciones legales fueron suspendidas y los miembros de nuestro equipo han estado trabajando de forma remota durante varios meses. Afortunadamente, nos resultó relativamente fácil manejar la situación porque somos una organización de tecnología cívica y nuestro personal ya estaba capacitado en el uso de herramientas virtuales.

    ¿De qué modo podría la sociedad civil internacional apoyar su trabajo?

    Agradeceríamos toda oportunidad de capacitación que nos ponga en mejores condiciones para atender mejor a las comunidades locales con las que trabajamos. También nos gustaría conocer las estrategias que mejor han funcionado para frenar los abusos de derechos humanos en otros contextos.

    Citizens’ Gavel pone mucho énfasis en el uso de la tecnología para resolver algunos de los problemas de justicia que tiene el país y ha podido desarrollar algunas herramientas tecnológicas en ese sentido; sin embargo, nos gustaría aprender más sobre las tecnologías que están funcionando en otros contextos. El acceso a plataformas internacionales a través de las cuales podamos exigir que nuestro gobierno rinda cuentas también es clave para nuestra estrategia.

    El espacio cívico Nigeria is calificado como “represivo” por elCIVICUS Monitor.
    Contáctese con Citizen’s Gavel a través de susitio web o su página deFacebook, y siga a@citizen_gavel en Twitter.


  • NIGERIA: ‘The global anti-racist protests renewed the call for police accountability’

    CIVICUS speaks to Nelson Olanipekun, a human rights lawyer and the founder and team lead of Citizens’ Gavel, a Nigerian civic tech organisation that works to increase the pace of the delivery of justice by promoting access to justice, citizens’ engagement and the use of digital technologies. Citizens’ Gavel was founded in 2017 in reaction to the lack transparency and accountability in the justice sector.

    Nelson Olanipekun1

    What kind of work does Citizens’ Gavel do?

    Citizens’ Gavel is a civil society organisation (CSO) based in Nigeria. It was established three years ago to tackle the slow pace of the delivery of justice, promote accountability, and provide legal support. Our main goal is to increase the effectiveness of the delivery of justice through tech, advocacy, and strategic lobbying, and to reduce human rights violations through policy and legal advocacy. At the moment we are working jointly with other CSOs on legal reform. In doing so, we are trying to become a major player in policy-making processes that affect the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

    We work with cases involving issues that range from mass incarceration to the lack of digitised processes in the justice sector. The justice delivery process in Nigeria is one of the slowest in Africa and it results in a high percentage of people incarcerated while awaiting trial. About 70 percent of the people who are in prison are awaiting trial; only 30 percent have been convicted. In 2017 we filed a class action suit for more than 500 people who were awaiting trial in prison in Oyo State. These people had already spent several years in prison, although the law establishes that people can be held for a maximum of 28 days before being taken to court. We also digitised cause lists in over 30 courts across Nigeria, and focused on improving cooperation among stakeholders in the justice sector.

    We provide pro bono legal representation for pre-trial detainees who can’t afford a lawyer. We have developed programmes and apps for human rights abuse victims and their families to reach out for legal help easily. One of them is Podus, a tech platform that enables victims of pre-trial detention to connect with the pro bono lawyer nearest to their location. This platform was created specifically for young people, who don’t have easy access to lawyers or justice programmes. We have over 160 lawyers across 24 states in Nigeria and a rapid response legal team of seven lawyers. So far we have resolved 1,500 cases. Another tech-for-justice app we developed is Justice Clock, a tech platform that helps calculate the amount of time inmates spend in detention and the number of days suspects spend on trial vis-a-vis the appropriate provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and other laws. The platform also offers a space where actors in the justice sector – the judiciary, the police, prosecutors and prison officials – can stand at par with international best practices, and in doing so can make their work easier. We have worked hand in hand with Ogun State to successfully deploy the Justice Clock so that the justice sector, specifically the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner for Justice of Ogun State, ensures that it respects the constitutional time limits for which inmates awaiting trial can be imprisoned.

    We track cases that involve sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), take cases of police brutality, monitor anti-corruption campaigns and anti-corruption cases to provide relevant information to the public, and advocate for people living in extreme poverty and connect them through tech. Our concern about this population originally arose from the growing number of poor people who are imprisoned while awaiting trial. If they don’t receive any help, poor defendants spend a long time in jail for minor offences, just because they cannot afford to either pay bail or bribe the police. They are also vulnerable and can be coerced into confessing to crimes they did not commit and end up spending even longer periods in prison.

    Citizens’ Gavel also works on police brutality. What is the situation in Nigeria, and how did the global protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in the USA resonate locally?

    Police brutality is a big issue in Nigeria and we have worked on it for some time. In April 2019, for instance, we challenged the Nigerian Police Force to conduct mental health assessments on officers who had committed abuses or killings, or otherwise face legal action.

    The global protests triggered by the death of George Floyd renewed the call for police accountability in Nigeria and people started sharing stories of their encounters with police officers. Coupled with pre-existing local issues, the US incident that resonated globally enhanced the local voices who were speaking up against police brutality. We were able to contribute by addressing the complaints that citizens reported to us and continuing to work to ensure culpable officers are held accountable.

    In what ways have human rights issues worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic?

    As the pandemic started there was an increase in police brutality related to the enforcement of lockdown measures and compliance with sanitary protocols. Interactions between citizens and police officers increased and resulted in more complaints against police officers. By April 2020, it appeared that police officers had killed more people than COVID-19. Additionally, the brutalities committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Unit of the Nigerian Police Force continued during the pandemic, and the authorities continued failing to prosecute officers who committed torture and violent crimes, mostly against young men from low-income backgrounds.

    Another longstanding epidemic, that of SGBV, flourished under the pandemic. Before the pandemic, about 30 percent of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 had experienced sexual abuse. While preventing outbreaks of the virus, lockdown measures represented a heightened threat to the safety of girls and women, as victims of SGBV remained locked in with their abusers. Between March and April 2020, reports of SGBV increased by 149 percent. The lockdown also compromised the availability of and access to services, as many centres and shelters for victims of SGBV closed or reduced the range of services they provided. As a result, these essential services were lacking precisely when survivors needed them the most.

    In response to this situation, Citizens’ Gavel increased the number of SGBV cases we manage. We are doing as much as we can, taking into account that physical meetings and legal interventions were suspended and our team members had to work remotely for several months. Fortunately, this was relatively easy to pivot to because we are a civic tech organisation and our staff had already been trained to use online tools.

    What kind of support from international civil society would help your work?

    We would appreciate training opportunities to enhance our skills to better serve the local communities we work with. We would also like to know about the strategies that work best to curb human rights abuses in other environments.

    Citizens’ Gavel is big on using tech to solve some of the local justice issues and has been able to develop some tech tools; however, we would like to learn more about technologies that work in other contexts. Accessing international platforms through which we can hold the government accountable is also key to our strategy.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with Citizens’ Gavel through itswebsite orFacebook page, and follow@citizen_gavel on Twitter.



  • Nigeria: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review Report


    UN Human Rights Council – 40th Session
    15 March 2019
    Oral Statement

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs and CIVICUS welcome the Government of Nigeria’s engagement in the 3rd cycle of the UPR process, including accepting a range of recommendations presented by the UPR Working Group in November 2018.

    We note that since the 2nd UPR review, the government has worked towards strengthening security operations through retraining law enforcement personnel in interrogation. However, we urge Nigeria to put effective measures in place to curb police brutality through a comprehensive reform of the police force.

    It is disappointing to note that despite the continued harassment of the press and of civil society organisations, the national report of Nigeria barely addressed the issue of restrictions on civic space. Arrests, detentions and harassment of human rights defenders continues. Maryam Awaisu, one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, was arrested in her office in February 2019. In January, the Abuja and regional offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspapers, were raided by soldiers. The paper’s regional editor and a reporter were arrested and later released.

    Although the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Bill was rejected, we note with concern a new bill that is before the Senate, the Establishment of the Federal Charities Commission of Nigeria, which seeks to regulate the activities of NGOs. We urge Nigeria not to adopt laws that would further undermine civic space.

    We call on the Nigerian government to consider the 12 recommendations made by delegates relating to civic space and the operations of security personnel whilst fully implementing the eight accepted recommendations from the previous review relating to the protection of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists.

    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our joint submission on Nigeria for the UN Universal Periodic Review 


  • Nigeria: Democracy Dialogue Report: 18 July 2018

    Democracy Dialogue held by Girls Education Mission International in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria, 18 July 2018


  • Nigeria: Proposed NGO bill will be a death knell for civil society

    Abuja —A proposed bill currently before Nigeria’s lawmakers, which will give the government sweeping powers over non-governmental organisations (NGOs), threatens the existence of Nigerian civil society, if passed into law.

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, have warned that the bill is clearly intended as a means to undermine the work of NGOs, especially those working to hold the government accountable. The fact that the House of Representatives hastily announced a scheduled public hearing for 13 and 14 December 2017 in the capital, Abuja is indicative of the intention of the authorities to avoid broad participation of civil society organisations from the different parts of Nigeria and ram the bill through the Legislature.  Most CSOs are based outside of Abuja, where the public hearing will be held, making it difficult for them to travel to the hearing at short notice. 

    The Bill for the Establishment of the NGO’s Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations makes it compulsory for all NGOs operating in Nigeria to register with the government and requires them to include details such has location and duration of proposed activities as well as information on all sources of funding.  In addition, the proposed legislation states that NGOs will be required to provide “additional information” as requested by the Board during registration but does not say what this “additional information” would be. 

    These requirements make the registration process cumbersome and may inhibit the timely registration of some NGOs, making them susceptible to penalties.  In addition, making NGO registration compulsory goes against international standards for freedom of association as it prevents informal associations from existing and operating freely because of their lack of formal status.

    Said Oyebisi Oluseyi, NNNGO Director: “Civil society organisations in Nigeria provide social services to communities, contribute towards development outcomes and work to ensure that the government adheres to its human rights obligation.” If passed into law, the proposed NGO law will severely restrict the environment in which civil society operates and reverse socio-economic and democratic gains made over the years.” 

    The Bill provides wide powers to a regulatory agency to refuse to issue a registration certificate if, for example, it deems activities of the NGO to be against national interest.  The Agency also has the authority to suspend or cancel a certificate that has been issued. Such broad powers place NGOs — especially those critical of government actions and who speak out against corruption and human rights violations — at the mercy of the authorities who can deregister organisations as a punitive measure for holding the government to account. 

    The content of the Bill is symptomatic of a growing global trend we now experience among governments to thwart the work of civil society organisations by placing restrictions on them in law and practice and by using the term “foreign agents” to discredit their work.  

    In addition, the Bill requires that NGOs register every two years and that the names of NGOs that fail to do so are deleted from the national register, forcing such NGOs to cease all their activities. It states that the registration of an organisation will be renewed on condition that the organisation submits its tax clearance certificate and other relevant documentation required by the Board. 

    The Bill compels NGOs to submit projects to the relevant government Ministry for approval and then registered with the agency’s board before they are implemented. The Bill does not place a limit on the registration fees for NGOs but leaves it to the discretion of the Commission.  Individuals who violate provisions of the Bill face up to 18 months in prison or a huge fine and those convicted of such violations are prohibited from holding office in an NGO for a period of ten years.  

    Said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for CIVICUS: “If passed into law, this draconian bill will place civil society under the thumb of the government and practically take away the independence of NGOs.  It might also set a negative precedent in the West African region, aggravating an already hostile environment for civil society.”

    CIVICUS and NNNGO call on the Nigerian authorities to adhere to their constitutional and international obligations on freedom of association and expression and withdraw the Bill. 


    For more information contact:

    Oyebisi Oluseyi

    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    +234 906 948 5207

    David Kode

    Lead: Campaigns and Advocacy


    +27 11 833 5959


  • Nigeria: Urgent call to end violence against #EndSARS protesters

    The brutal shooting of peaceful protesters in Lagos by Nigerian security forces is a gross violation of protesters’ rights and those responsible should be held accountable by the authorities, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today.


  • Nigerian president Buhari must ensure release of journalist Jones Abiri

    President Muhammadu Buhari
    Aso Villa, Yakubu Gowon Crescent, 
    The Three Arms Zone, Asokoro, 
    Abuja, FTC, Nigeria

    Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,

    We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organization that champions press freedom internationally, and 18 other organizations, are writing to call for the release of journalist Jones Abiri, who has been held by Nigeria's Department of State Security (DSS) for nearly two years, and to call for DSS to be held accountable for its attacks against journalists in Nigeria.

    We were disappointed that, after repeated requests during CPJ's visit to Nigeria in April 2018, we were not permitted to visit Abiri in detention. In a meeting with CPJ on April 24, 2018, Garba Shehu, your presidential spokesperson, confirmed that Abiri remained in DSS custody and said he would be charged in court on allegations of being a militant. Yet after almost two years behind bars, Abiri has not seen a courtroom, nor has his family been given any information about his health and well-being.

    The DSS operates under Nigeria's coordinator of national security, which reports directly to you, according to the 1986 National Security Agencies Act. During a visit to State House in April, Garba Shehu also told CPJ that you would be made personally aware of Abiri's ongoing detention. We therefore call for your swift action to ensure Abiri's release and that those responsible for his prolonged and illegal detention are held accountable.

    In February and March 2018, the DSS also arrested Tony Ezimakor, the Abuja bureau chief of the privately owned Daily Independent newspaper. CPJ documented Ezimakor's week-long detention without charge or court appearance, during which the DSS threatened the journalist with terrorism charges for his reporting.

    Over the last two years, CPJ has repeatedly tried to contact Lawal Musa Daura, director general of the DSS, and Gbeteng Bassi, director of operations of the DSS, without success. Nigerian journalists have similarly told CPJ, with dismay, that they are unable to reach the DSS for comment, regarding the arrest of their colleagues or otherwise. During the same April 2018 meeting with CPJ, Garba Shehu confirmed that the DSS has not designated anyone responsible for communicating with the Nigerian public. We urge you to improve accountability and make the DSS accessible to the press. This includes the appointment of a DSS spokesperson.

    Your action to ensure the safety of journalists and the promotion of open dialogue through the press is made even more important because Nigeria will hold elections in February 2019. Around the world, CPJ has documented how attacks on journalists have escalated during election periods and other political processes. It is in this context that we urge you to take decisive action to ensure that journalists are free to report on matters of public concern, and that a culture of self-censorship does not cloud public decision-making processes. As part of this, Abiri should be released without delay.


    Joel Simon
    Executive Director
    Committee to Protect Journalists

    Shu'aibu Usman Leman
    National Secretary
    Nigerian Union of Journalists

    Wade H. McMullen, Jr.
    Managing Attorney
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Elizabeth Chyrum
    Human Rights Concern - Eritrea

    David Kode
    Head of Advocacy and Campaigns 

    Edmund YaKani
    Executive Director
    Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, South Sudan

    Zohrab Ismayil 
    Programmes Director
    Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center (CCIC)

    Yared Hailemariam
    Association For Human Rights In Ethiopia (AHRE)

    Dina Meza
    Directora Ejecutiva 
    Asociación por la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos

    Melanie Sonhaye Kombate
    Programs and Advocacy Director
    West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)

    Rahman Gharib
    Metro Center for Journalists Rights & Advocacy

    Alphonsus B.M. Gbanie
    Executive Secretary
    Human Rights Defenders Network- Sierra Leone

    Yemisi Ransome-Kuti
    Founding Executive Director and Board Member, 
    Nigeria Network of NGOs

    Osai Ojigho
    Amnesty International - Nigeria

    Cristina Palabay
    Secretary General 
    Karapatan - Philippines

    Adilur Khan
    Secretary General
    Odhikar - Bangladesh

    Carles Torner
    Executive Director
    PEN International

    Folu Agoi
    PEN Nigeria

    Sulemana Braimah
    Executive Director
    Media Foundation for West Africa


  • Worrying legislation to restrict Nigerian civil society sector underway

    CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) are deeply concerned about impending legislation to restrict freedom of association in Nigeria.

    Nigeria’s National Assembly is currently considering a bill to provide for “the establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations etc. in Nigeria and for related matters.” First introduced in July 2016, the bill has since passed through the second reading in the House of Representatives. The bill has now been referred to the Committee on CSOs and Development Partners for further legislative input.

    “The bill is in conflict with Nigeria’s Constitutional and international law obligations,” says Oyebisi Oluseyi, Executive Director of NNNGO. “We must instead strengthen civic space in Nigeria, as our sector’s role in finding solutions to the enormous challenges facing our nation cannot be overemphasized”.