The United States of America has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of stifling free speech and engaging in massive corruption.
This was contained in a ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,’ released by the US on Tuesday.
US accused government employees of engaging in widespread, and pervasive corruption.
The report stated, “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not consistently implement the law, and government employees frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government, including the judiciary and security services. There were numerous allegations of government corruption during the year.”
On press freedom, the report accused the government of harassing and detaining journalists for reporting sensitive problems such as corruption and security.
The US reported that the government use security agencies to stifle freedom of speech.
It stated, “Security services detained and harassed journalists, sometimes for reporting sensitive problems such as political corruption and security. Security services including the DSS (Department of State Services) and police occasionally arrested and detained journalists who criticised the government.
“Authorities in the north at times restricted free speech by labelling it blasphemy,” it stated, noting that critics were subjected to threats, intimidation, arrest, detention, and sometimes violence.
“Army personnel in some cases threatened civilians who provided, or were perceived to have provided, information to journalists or NGOs on misconduct by the military.
“On at least six occasions, journalists were charged with treason, economic sabotage, or fraud when uncovering corruption or public protests.
“Numerous journalists were killed, detained, abducted, or arrested during the year (2020).”
The report made reference to the killing of Alex Ogbu, a reporter for the RegentAfrica Times magazine, by policemen while covering an Islamic Movement in Nigeria protest in Abuja on January 21, 2020.
It also cited the killing of an intern with Gboah tv, Onifade Pelumi, on October 24, in Lagos by police operatives.
It noted that the government of the day uses laws such as the reviews NBC code to limit free press.
’Citing violations of amendments to the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in August, the NBC fined local radio station Nigeria Info 99.3 FM for comments by the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, on insecurity in the country.
“The NBC also sanctioned private television stations Africa Independent Television, Channels TV and Arise News during October’s #EndSARS protests, alleging their reportage of the nationwide protests relied on unverifiable video footage from social media handles,’’ a part of the report read.
The US added that the government often fail to follow die process in the arrest and prosecution of alleged corrupt Nigerians.
The report lampooned the government over the killing and harassment of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Tollgate on the night of October 20, 2020.
It also a accused the government of detaining suspected perons unlawfully and in in terrible conditions.
The report said, ‘’Several unofficial military detention facilities continued to operate, including the Giwa Barracks facility in Maiduguri, Borno State. Although conditions in the Giwa Barracks detention facility reportedly improved, detainees were not always given due process and were subjected to arbitrary and indefinite detention.
“There were no reports of accountability for past deaths in custody, nor for past reports from Amnesty International alleging that an estimated 20,000 persons were arbitrarily detained between 2009 and 2015, with as many as 7,000 dying in custody.’’
It reported that the military and other security operatives allegedly engage in raping exploiting and abusing women and children in IDP camps and other villages in the Book Haram ravaged North East.
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