The presidency has attacked Amnesty International, saying the international rights organisation is siding ‘with terrorists’ and ‘has no legal right to exist in Nigeria.’

Garba Shehu, the spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, said this in a statement sent to journalists on Wednesday.

Mr Shehu was reacting to the latest report by Amnesty International (AI) asking the Nigerian government to end enforced disappearance in the country.

“Nigerian security forces’ attempts to clamp down on Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) militants have led to arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Southeast and Niger Delta area of Nigeria,” AI said in the report published by PREMIUM TIMES in which it also listed some other cases of enforced disappearance in the country.

In its reaction, the presidency accused AI of promoting “those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

“Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences,” Mr Shehu wrote.

The latest statement by the presidency joins a growing list of similar attacks on the international rights organisation by the Nigerian government and some of its organs over critical reports by AI of the human rights situation in Nigeria.

The Nigerian army, the military, the information ministry and others have at various times made statements to attack AI.

Read Mr Shehu’s full statement below.

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

WHY AMNESTY’S ENTREATIES SHOULD BE IGNORED, BY PRESIDENCY

Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria is but more of the same.

Again, they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder.

Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria. Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences. This puts them in bad company. Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC.

IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions. Instead, there would be silence or mealy-mouthed justification of western governments’ action to check the spread of “terrorism.”

Despite Amnesty’s self-proclaimed mandate to impartially transcend borders, unfortunately in Nigeria they play only domestic politics. The international NGO is being used as cover for the organisation’s local leaders to pursue their self-interests. Regrettably, this is not uncommon in Africa. There is nothing wrong with an activist stance; there are claims of neutrality, when all facts point to the opposite.

Amnesty International has no legal right to exist in Nigeria. It must open a formal investigation into the personnel that occupy their Nigerian offices. They should reject the outrageously tendentious misinformation they receive and bring some semblance of due diligence to the sources they base their claims on. Currently, we see none.

The Nigerian government will fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal. We will ignore Amnesty’s rantings. Especially when it comes from an organisation that does not hold itself to the same standards it demands of others.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)

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