Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have asked the Nigerian Military to stop the “bullying” and “intimidation” of Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist who has covered extensively the Boko Haram insurgency.
In a joint statement signed by representatives of CSOs including former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, the groups noted that acts of hostility against independent journalists and public commentators were becoming more regular by the day.
“No fewer than five current governors have thrown journalists and public commentators into detention in the past few months over their comments and reports regarding public policies initiated by these government agencies,” the statement read in part.
“Weeks ago, Ahmad Salkida, an independent journalist whose consistency in reporting objectively on the human crisis situation in the Northeast, raised the alarm, following a report he published on the released 82 Chibok girls, that his life was under renewed threat.
“As a matter of fact the Nigerian Army had in August 14th, 2016 declared Salkida a wanted man without justification.
“Having willingly submitted himself for interrogation Salkida was released without any charge or indictment by the military authorities.
“The same military authorities found nothing professionally unbecoming to use against him, but would not publicly admit this.
“But the threat to his life, attempts to block him from professionally seeking a livelihood, attempts to profile him and intimidate him continued.”
According to the statement, recent attempts against Salkida involve using a “sponsored shadowy group to place spurious charges in court against him.”
The CSOs also recalled the harsh treatment meted out on Amnesty international by the Nigerian military “following its professional work of calling out government on its deplorable human rights records.”
“The government became so incensed as to suggest that Amnesty International was undermining the Nigerian government’s sovereignty and that the agency was working with the violent terror group, Boko Haram.
“Today, similar accusation of working with Boko Haram has been central in the petitions lodged by another shadowy group, the Incorporated Trustees of Overt Legacy and Human Development Initiative, in the court against Salkida.”
The statement called on the Federal Government “to swiftly investigate the activities of these neo-NGOs and several individuals online and offline threatening Salkida and parading themselves as defenders of government.”
“We also urged all appropriate security agencies to guarantee the safety of journalists and public commentators all over Nigeria and to particularly guarantee Salkida’s continued professional practice without let or hinder.”
Among the CSOs that signed the statement include Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC; Section on Public Interest and Development Law, SPIDEL; Coalition for Democracy and Progress, BOCODEP; Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD; North East Youth Initiative for Development, NEYIF; Say No Campaign Nigeria and the Zero Corruption Coalition.
Others are Centre for Environmental Education; Coalition for Improvement of Public Expenditure Management, BACIPEM; Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment; Alliance for Credible Election, ACE; Protest to Power Movement; International Press Centre; and the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO.