Don’t Be Intimidated, CHRICED Tells #EndSARS Protesters as CBN Freezes Sponsors’ Bank Accounts

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Don’t Be Intimidated, CHRICED, #EndSARS, Sponsors, Protesters, CBN, Freezes Bank Accounts

Don’t Be Intimidated, CHRICED Tells #EndSARS Protesters as CBN Freezes Sponsors’ Bank Accounts

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has condemned Nigeria’s Central Bank’s recent freezing of bank accounts of alleged sponsors of the #EndSARS protests that were calling for an end to police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria, saying it was an attempt to silence dissent voices.

CHRICED’s executive director, Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said in a press statement he sighned on Sunday, a copy of which Nigerian Sketch obtained, that individuals affected by the freeze orders should “not to despair, but to remain steadfast despite the tactics being employed by the state to harass and intimidate them.”

He said “the latest brazen attempts to undermine human rights and civil liberties is a clear message to the #EndSARS movement that the battles are not over; it is not time to take a break. CHRICED therefore calls on young Nigerians to brace up for the battles ahead as this struggle is beyond just a few individuals. It is a battle to rescue the country from the vice-grip of a rudderless order, which has made the country and its massive potentials prostrate.”

The executive director therefore “calls for the support of all friends of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Nigeria’s international partners must not fall for the propaganda of the government; they must understand that the ongoing struggle is a patriotic movement by long-suffering citizens to ensure democratic and accountable governance in the country.”

Read the full statement below:

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) strongly denounces the latest round of human rights violations, and state-sanctioned attacks aimed at silencing critical citizens’ voices, especially in the wake of the EndSARS protests. In what comes across as an attempt by the government to further muzzle voices demanding an end to police brutality and accountable governance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently obtained an ex parte order to freeze accounts of individuals said to be funding the #EndSARS protests. Such a draconian and retrogressive move at a time the government claims it is listening to the demands of the protesters, constitutes a brazen infringement on citizens’ rights, as spelt out in the Nigerian Constitution. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution gives the most fundamental legal approval to the peaceful #EndSARS protests. It clearly states that “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons…”

There is no mistake in the fact that the #EndSARS protests represent a culmination of citizens’ decades-long demand for an end to human rights abuses, as represented by the brutal policing system which assails the dignity of the ordinary citizen. Since the advent of Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation in 1999, the process of governance has not translated into better outcomes for citizens. Two decades after, the vast majority of Nigerians continue to wallow in extreme poverty, and terrible social conditions. Nigerians continue to endure the reality of dilapidated health infrastructure, a very high rate of youth unemployment, a brutal policing system, which cannot guarantee security of lives and property, just as the education continues to experience unmitigated collapse and castration. These are the problems #EndSARS protests have brought to the fore. The use of the instrument of peaceful protests to draw attention to the plight of citizens is not a criminal act. For us therefore, the freeze order on the account of perceived protest leaders is a misuse of effort and state resources. If the CBN used the same zeal and energy to trace the financiers of Boko Haram, kidnapping, banditry and the other urgent challenges to national security, it is possible those menaces would have been dealt with by now.

CHRICED therefore reiterates its position that it stands in solidarity with the young people of Nigeria who mobilised and galvanized millions of fellow citizens to demand that the Nigerian State live up to its responsibility as contained in the social contract. Therefore, any attempt to undermine the rights, and demonise the citizens who refused to be silent in the face of injustice and oppression, makes it apparent that the government is not serious about the reforms it promised. To deploy the institutions of the state, including the CBN, and the courts to issue half-baked orders to freeze the bank accounts of protest leaders, in such a brazen manner makes it clear that the government is not sincere about the ongoing efforts to ensure justice for victims of police brutality. Also, the resort to repressive tactics by the government serves as an indicator that it will take no step to address the other wider concerns, which fueled the protests.

CHRICED calls on individuals affected by the freeze orders not to despair, but to remain steadfast despite the tactics being employed by the state to harass and intimidate them. The latest brazen attempts to undermine human rights and civil liberties is a clear message to the #EndSARS movement that the battles are not over; it is not time to take a break. CHRICED therefore calls on young Nigerians to brace up for the battles ahead as this struggle is beyond just a few individuals. It is a battle to rescue the country from the vice-grip of a rudderless order, which has made the country and its massive potentials prostrate.

In these difficult times when state institutions have now made it a policy to routinely violate citizens’ rights, CHRICED calls for the support of all friends of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Nigeria’s international partners must not fall for the propaganda of the government; they must understand that the ongoing struggle is a patriotic movement by long-suffering citizens to ensure democratic and accountable governance in the country.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed:

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director

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