The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has expressed deep concern over the escalating attacks on media practitioners, activists, and other civic actors in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East region.
Recent reports reveal a disturbing trend of repressive tactics employed by state authorities to silence dissent and stifle freedom of expression. Over the past month, there have been troubling incidents involving the harassment, arrest, and intimidation of journalists and civic actors in Imo and Enugu States. RULAAC points to a pattern where police, often acting at the behest of state governors and other officials, have used tactics such as police harassment, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, and threats of imprisonment to suppress those critical of government actions.
In a notable case, Twitter user and social media influencer Chude Franklin Nnamdi was arrested for posting about alleged ballot box snatching during elections in Anambra State. The police claimed that his activities on social media contravened cyberstalking laws and other criminal statutes. These incidents highlight the growing concern that laws intended to combat cybercrimes are being used to stifle legitimate expression and dissent.
RULAAC has also highlighted instances where police officers bypassed established procedures to transfer cases from local commands to the Force Headquarters in Abuja, a practice explicitly prohibited by the Inspector-General of Police. This misuse of police powers further raises concerns about due process and accountability.
The advocacy group calls for urgent action to protect the rights of journalists and civic actors.
RULAAC urges the Inspector General of Police to ensure that police officers uphold the rule of law, comply with established investigation processes, and refrain from becoming tools of oppression at the behest of public officials. Additionally, RULAAC stresses the need for clear definitions in laws related to cybercrimes to prevent their misuse and the suppression of freedom of expression.
RULAAC’s appeal for legal protection and accountability underscores the importance of maintaining a vibrant civil society and a free press, both critical pillars of a functioning democracy. As attacks on civic actors and journalists continue, advocates like RULAAC emphasize the imperative of safeguarding democratic values and the rights of citizens to express their views without fear of reprisal.