Presidency Warns SERAP Against Divisive, Blatant Publicity Shows On Court Cases

  • Demands patriotism from organisation

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Presidency has berated the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over its consistent threats of legal actions against the Federal Government on policy decisions and programmes meant for the overall good of the citizens.

Describing as ‘divisive, irresponsible and bare-faced publicity stunts’ repeated ridiculous claims from SERAP, the Presidency accused the organisation of being dishonest and lacking in transparency given its inability to follow through on its various spurious legal claims in Nigerian courts.

”Let them challenge the government publicly, legally, and transparently”, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

Malam Shehu, who was reacting to claims of various legal actions being instituted against the Government and/or President of Nigeria by SERAP, almost on a weekly basis, said so little is known about SERAP, or who funds them despite professing to be an organisation that champions transparency and accountability.

”To date, SERAP has announced on repeated occasions – each time via a well-funded media campaign – that it is suing the government or President over a range of issues from alleged human rights abuses to alleged corruption. To date, SERAP has not taken their retinue of legal actions to a logical conclusion. They (officers) don’t follow through.

”Yet these headline-grabbing publicity stunts, however baseless, succeed in painting an inaccurate picture of life and governance in Nigeria and – more seriously – in sowing division amongst the Nigerian people during a time of heightened global economic volatility and hardship”, the presidential spokesman said.

He said Nigeria is comfortable that its record as Africa’s leading democracy and largest economy speaks for itself, adding that the country was among the top five nations in Africa for quality of life, and its ranking in the Human Development Index had steadily risen for a decade.

According to the media aide; ”This success is testament to the rights, rule of law and strong, independent institutions enjoyed by all Nigerian citizens and others who live there. Indeed, it is a fact that independent, non-governmental organisations can thrive there – especially those that seek accountability from the government.

”Put simply, here lies SERAP’s paradox: in a country without human rights, no rule of law, limited freedom of expression, and weak democratic institutions the cases and cacophony that SERAP causes – even the organisation itself – simply would not be permitted.

”It is, unfortunately, the case that our progressive, modern, and liberal legal system is open to manipulation by cynical actors who seek nothing but to sow division amongst Nigerians and secure publicity for themselves.

”With the global pandemic exacerbating poverty across the continent, those who have always sought to divide Nigerians along cultural, racial and political lines for political or financial gain are more dangerous than before.”

Throwing the challenge for SERAP to ‘publicly, legally and transparently’ face the government, Malam Shehu said; “And while they do so, let them reveal in full view of the nation who they are, and who is funding them.”

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