The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, has called for the appointment of a non-Nigerian Researcher on Nigeria Affairs for the Human Rights Watch, HRW.
The group, in a statement dated Thursday, 6 July 2023, also solicited a leadership overhaul of Amnesty International, AI, Nigeria.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, the board chair of Intersociety, stated that the demands were imperative to purge the HRW and AI’s “advocacy activities in the country of entrenched ethnic and religious biases and hatred and ensure non-discrimination and professionalism in the distribution of its advocacy activities in Nigeria or any part thereof.”
Umeagbalasi accused the global organisations of political partisanship, and ethnic and religious biases which has deprived “Nigeria’s hotbed of gross human rights abuses, the South East, South-South and Middle-Belt regions, of AI and HRW’s advocacy activities and benefits since 2016.”
“Strong accusations are pointing in the direction of the top leadership of the Nigerian section of the organisation[s] to the effect that a number of its present leaders are card-carrying members of the central ruling party and political appointees of some sitting Governors in northern Nigeria. This, we seriously frown at and consider as a height of partisanship,” he stated.
Umeagbalasi added, “A cursory look at the advocacy activities of the HRW in Nigeria from 2013–2015 clearly showed that ethnic and religious biases have been responsible for near-total absence of the advocacy works and benefits of the HRW in Old Eastern and Middle-Belt Regions of Nigeria comprising South East, South-South and North-Central including Southern Kaduna. This is more so when it is age-long knowledge that citizens of Nigeria are deeply divided along ethnic, religious and hate lines.
The Board Chair disclosed that the civil society group has written an ‘advocacy letter’ to AI’s Dr Agnes Callamard, a respected former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and Summary Executions or Killings, wherein it demanded the suspension and closure of the Nigerian office of AI “pending when it is sanitised and reorganised.”
He also said that Intersociety “recommended that the West/East African Regional Office of Amnesty International located in Dakar, Senegal should take over the affairs of the Nigerian Section with a non Nigerian Rights campaigner recruited as ‘New Researcher on Nigeria’. This is to ensure non-discrimination and professionalism.”