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June 12: CAPPA Warns Against Planned Clampdown On Rallies, Urges Government To Embrace True Democracy

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has warned the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS) against the planned clampdown on Nigerians engaged in a peaceful rally to commemorate democracy day.

The non-governmental organisation’s statement, issued early Wednesday, follows a series of statements by the DSS and the InspectorGeneral of Police (IGP) threatening to prevent the planned protests by well-meaning Nigerians, labour unions, and a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs).

While reminding state authorities and security forces of their obligations to protect citizens’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, CAPPA called for a rethinking and strengthening of Nigeria’s democracy to achieve sustainable national development.

According to the organisation, despite 25 years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria, the persistent disregard for democratic principles has continued to limit citizens’ participation in decision-making processes and stifle meaningful progress.

“The diversity of opinions and active participation of citizens in political processes enrich democracy and promote nation-building.

“Yet the suppression of press freedoms, arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, and vocal citizens and critics have become increasingly reoccurring instances in the country and disappointing indices that undermine the people’s power to have an equal voice in their government.

“Indeed, we have come a long way as a people on a journey, and this day, as always, holds major significance in our history. It is a timely reminder of the resilience and bravery we embody even in the face of challenges that threaten to swallow us.

“And it is for this reason that we must continue to uphold the sanctity of our nationhood and jealously defend it from the perils that threaten its wholesomeness,” CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said in the statement.

The group admonished Nigeria’s leaders, saying the country’s democracy must strive to reflect the pursuit of fairness, inclusivity and happiness for all. But for this to happen, Nigerians must embark on an honest evaluation of where we are at this time and our efforts to embrace true democracy.

CAPPA pointed out that in this day and time, the pillars of democracy in Nigeria remain weak, with popular participation in governance waning while the promise of free and fair elections remains largely unfulfilled for many citizens.

This reality, the organisation noted, has contributed to the increasing wave of disillusionment and apathy among the populace.

“Moreso, the Nigerian state continues to operate with little or no regard for the principles of separation of powers, thereby compromising the ability of the different arms of government to self-regulate or even exert the necessary measure of checks and balances that helps to prevent the abuse of power and protect the rights and liberties of the people.

“The result is a weak legislature, a captured judiciary and a lawless executive revelling in impunity. Sadly, it is the Nigerian citizens who are the ultimate losers.’’

The statement concluded by encouraging state and political authorities to reject the body language that criminalises the prospects of an open government, adding that to do so would require the complete adoption of transparency, accountability and respect for the rule of law by the government at all levels and its institutions.  



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