The Presidency retaliated against the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project on Wednesday, ordering it to discontinue its “divisive, reckless, and bare-faced publicity stunts.”
This is as it urged SERAP to pursue its latest “spurious” legal claim in a Nigerian court of law and to confront the government publicly, legally, and transparently, while disclosing its funding source.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and PR, asserted this in an article titled, ‘SERAP should cease the publicity stunt and take responsibility for its actions.’
The scathing piece is preceded by a series of lawsuits brought by SERAP against President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on a variety of grounds, most notably a breach of human rights.
The most recent of these lawsuits was filed on Friday, November 26, 2021, in which the advocacy group asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to “direct and compel President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to ensure the arrest of soldiers and police officers indicted by the Lagos #EndSARS panel report for the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate, as well as police brutality cases.”
“We would want to address the repeated ludicrous allegations made by the so-called Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project that it is pursuing legal action against the Government and/or President of Nigeria,” the Presidency stated in its statement.
“To far, SERAP has repeatedly proclaimed – each time through a well-funded media campaign – that it is suing the government or President over a variety of concerns, ranging from purported human rights violations to suspected corruption. SERAP has not brought any of their legal actions to a logical conclusion to date. They do not adhere to their commitments.
“Yet these sensationalist PR stunts, however false, succeed in painting a misleading picture of life and administration in Nigeria and – more importantly – in sowing division among the Nigerian people at a time of increased global economic volatility and misery.”
Shehu stated that Nigeria’s record as “Africa’s leading democracy” and greatest economy is self-evident. Nigeria ranks among Africa’s top five countries in terms of quality of life, and our position on the Human Development Index has progressively increased over the last decade.
This accomplishment, he maintained, is a monument to the rights, rule of law, and strong, independent institutions that all Nigerian citizens and residents enjoy.
“Indeed, it is a truth that independent, non-governmental organizations – particularly those seeking accountability from government – may thrive there,” he concluded.
“Put simply, this is SERAP’s paradox: in a country devoid of human rights, the rule of law, limited freedom of expression, and frail democratic institutions, the cases and clamor that SERAP generates – indeed, the organization itself – would simply not be tolerated.”
According to Shehu, Nigeria’s progressive, modern, and liberal judicial system is unfortunately susceptible to exploitation by cynical individuals seeking only to create discord among Nigerians and garner fame for themselves.
He stated that with the global pandemic aggravating poverty across the continent, individuals who have historically sought to split Nigerians along cultural, racial, and political lines for political or financial gain are more dangerous than ever.