MUZZLING CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE LIMITATION OF CREATIVE DISSENT IN EDO STATE: BEING A PRESS RELEASE OF THE CONFERENCE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (CONGOs)
The recent instructions of the Edo State Government that various bodies including NGOs and CBOs must come and register with the State Ministry of Social and Gender Issues to be able to carry out their activities in Edo State calls for serious concern. We particularly frown at the subjection of the activities of these organizations to the “supervision and monitoring” of the said ministry.
While such standards might apply to the activities of creche, children and orphanage homes, elderly and old persons homes, it negates the freedom of civil society to act and engage the state as organisations of free individuals.
We draw from Article 71 of the United Nations Charter which classifies Non-Governmental Organisations as entities that are independent of governmental influence. Its activities address issues of the public good which could be at variance with the interest of government. It is in this context that the freedom of a civil society organ becomes inalienable and unnegotiable.
We state unequivocally that, Nigeria being a signatory of the United Nation charter as herein referred, is bound by the observance and conformity to the dictates of this charter.
To that effect, the right for people to come together and act within the context of the governing constitution of our country is sacrosanct and cannot be compromised. The right of civil society to gather, dissent with government on issues of essential national impartation, and protest cannot be subject to the supervision and monitoring of the state in the context expressed by the Edo state government.
This instruction coming after the protest by civil society coalition against the decision of the Edo State Government to enforce forced vaccination on the citizenry of the state, makes the intention of government suspicious.
Furthermore, the suspicion of government intentions is heightened by the history of the Edo State Government with regards to the upholding of human rights, commitment to a free social space a development that has culminated in the case against the state presently ongoing at the ECOWAS Court.
We urge the state government to refrain from this antipeople approach to governance and save the state from negative publicity and perception by the international community.
The right of the people to associate is inalienable and must not be gagged by any definition as being expressed by the government of Edo State.
Mrs Abiola Daisy Igaga
Comrade Gifted Aghedo
Director of Publicity