BY GLORIA USMAN, ABUJA – A coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on the aegis of the ‘Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room,’ has said that the political events in the last one month point to a despotic democracy and a gradual decline of the Nigeria state to anarchy.
The CSOs which stated this while reacting to Tuesday siege at the National Assembly by the personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), described the incident as despicable and a serious threat to Nigeria’s Democracy.
The Convener of the CSOs’ group, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, told journalist at a press conference in Abuja that the CSOs and members of the international community are seriously concerned over the growing attack on constitutionalism in Nigeria and the brazen acts of impunity by elected officials.
Nwankwo, who is also the executive director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)noted that in the last one month, a Magistrate Court was sacked, disobedience of court orders was justified by the Attorney General and there are growing cases of high handedness by security officials, adding that these events point to a despotic democracy and a gradual decline of the Nigeria state to Anarchy.
According to him; “The Nigeria Civil Society (Situation Room) condemns as despicable and a serious threat to Nigeria’s Democracy, the actions of the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police and security forces, in barricading the gates of the National Assembly and preventing the functioning of an independent arm of government.
“It is our concern that today’s barricade of the National Assembly represents a series of undemocratic actions by the executive arm of government that poses major questions about Nigeria’s practice of democracy. This falls into a growing list of deliberate attempt to undermine the constitutional order by this government.”
Nwankwo stressed that the action was not only unconstitutional but unacceptable to any democracy, adding that it did not only negate Nigeria’s democratic development, but put almost 20 years of Nigeria’s 4th Republic in great crisis and danger.
He said; “Nigeria’s Constitution and laws and the National Assembly rules define clear procedures for removal of presiding officers. Seeking to forcibly and violently interfere with the leadership of the National Assembly, points to dictatorship.”
He said that Civil Society and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) fought very hard against military dictatorship that seized Nigeria in December, 1983 in a coup led by General Muhammadu Buhari and enthroned democracy in 1999.
He commended Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the step taken by sacking the Director General of the DSS, Lawal Daura and urged him to also sanction police officers and DSS personnel who were involved in the abuse.
According to him; “Situation Room will also be seeking a meeting with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo to demand assurances that security forces will respect the institutions of democracy and claw back from the atmosphere of fear and dictatorship that has now entered our democratic space.”
The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria that include groups such as CLEEN Foundation, ActionAid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), and WANGONET.
Others include Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA). Others are Development Dynamics, Stakeholders Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC among others.