SERAP blasts EFCC, demands unconditional release of detained blogger

download (1)Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has faulted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over its arrest of a blogger, Abubakar Usman for allegedly criticising the commission’s boss of high handedness with the staff.

The organisation which frowned at the conduct of the EFCC advised it to “immediately and unconditionally release the blogger from detention.

Mr. Usman was arrested for alleged cyberstalking of the EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu.

But Mr. Usman’s family and associates said he was arrested for publishing a critical report on Mr. Magu.

In a statement Tuesday by SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said “This action by the EFCC is unequivocally contrary to both section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

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“The EFCC must immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Usman and drop all charges against him.”

The statement reads in part: “Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Under international law, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

“SERAP believes that no one should be arrested simply for criticising public institution or public figures.

“The EFCC and indeed all public institutions should proactively encourage freedom of expression to enhance their ability to fight corruption but also to maintain the sanctity of the constitution and Nigeria’s international obligations and commitments.

“There are many whistle-blowers out there that can be of immense support to anticorruption agencies and contribute to the effective discharge of their statutory mandates to prevent and combat corruption.

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“Nigerians should be allowed to talk freely without threats of arrest or harm.”

“SERAP will be taking legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the ludicrous Cyber Crime Act which is now being regularly used to undermine the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression in Nigeria.”

“In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued guidance to states parties including Nigeria on their free speech obligations under article 19 that emphasized the high value that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights places upon uninhibited expression in circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions,” the statement added.