By Lawrence Enyoghasu, Lagos
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has launched its first semi-annual Civic Space Monitor and 14-point programme on promoting the effective implementation of citizens’ human rights and media freedom in Nigeria.
According to Mr Adetokunbo Mini, Director of SERAP, the launch, which was titled “Shrinking Civic Space: Growing Assault on Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom in Nigeria” was necessary as there is an increasing crackdown on Nigerians and media in recent times.
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According to the presenter of the 14-point programme, lecturer of the University of Lagos, Faculty of Law, Dr Bunmi Afinowi, the organisation recorded 153 cases of abuse of human rights from July 2021 to December 2021 during the research of the programme, adding that shrinking civic space makes it more difficult for people to live, and in some contest to claim their right to a better life. ‘Nigerians and media should not allow the shrinking of public space as the new normal that Nigerians need to adapt to. The situation is reversible through harmonised action. Civic society actors often act as buffers against excessive statist interventions; they also play a watchdog role and exert pressure to demand accountability.
‘As SERAP’s core purpose is to empower people to fight poverty and injustice, shrinking civic space threatens everything we do. Nevertheless, civic space does not shrink in a linear way.’