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Nigeria: #TalkYourTruth – a campaign to secure the Right to Freedom of Expression

Amnesty International Nigeria today launches #TalkYourTruth a campaign to protect freedom of expression in Nigeria, as critics, journalists and individuals who express dissenting views face intimidation, threats and sometimes arrest by security forces. 

On many occasions, Nigerian authorities have continued to respond with violence and threats to individuals and groups who express dissenting opinions. Law enforcement agencies often fail to protect the right to freedom of expression, endangering the lives of those who dare to criticize authorities, those in power or institutions. 

It is unacceptable that in Nigeria those who exercise freedom of expression through critical opinions sometimes face threats, verbal and physical assault, indiscriminate arrest, torture, detention and prosecution through trumped-up charges and abuse of the Cybercrime and Anti-Terrorism laws. Nigerians must be free to express opinions without fear.

Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International

“The #TalkYourTruth campaign is aimed at protecting the right to freedom of expression and documenting cases of intimidation, arrest or threats to those who express opinions government, people or group of peoplemay find offensive. Government must tolerate unfavorable views and see critical voices as the good citizens exercising their human right,” said Osai Ojigho

Yahaya Shariff Aminu 21, remains in detention following an initial death sentence imposed on him for sharing an audio considered ‘blasphemous’ via WhatsApp. SalihuTanko Yakassaipopularly known as Dawisu was unlawfully detained by Nigeria’s secret police DSS for a tweet lamenting increasing insecurity; by condemning the kidnap of over 300 schoolgirls. Jaafar Jaafar, an investigative journalist fled Nigeria following threats to his life for exposing alleged corruption in government.Abubakar Idris (Dadiyata) a critic of Nigerian government was abducted by gunmen at home in Kaduna on 1 August 2019. His whereabouts is still unknown. 

“With the launch of the #TalkYourTruth campaign, we are urging the Nigerian authorities to show tangible commitment to freedomand also to immediately and unconditionally drop frivolous charges against those persecuted solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression. Those who express opinions others find offensive must be protected from the threats of state and non-state actors. Intimidating radio and television stations that broadcast critical opinions with threats of fine or closure must end. It is the duty of authorities to ensure that people can freely express critical opinions, without fear of reprisals,” said Osai Ojigho

Background

#TalkYourTruth is the second phase of Amnesty International Nigeria’s freedom of expression campaign aimed at protecting and promoting freedom of expression. Recent years saw increasing attacks on dissenting voices and in some cases intimidation by security agencies for merely expressing critical opinions, especially on social media.