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Buhari’s administration has been sensitive to issues of human rights – Lai Mohammed claims

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THE minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, in an interview with Tim Sebastian of Deutsche Welle (DW) on Wednesday, stated that the President Buhari administration has been ‘very sensitive to issues of human rights.’ 

Mohammed spoke in response to accusation by the international community that Nigeria perpetrates several human rights abuses including brutality, stifling the press, hampering on free speech and showing no regard for the rule of law.

According to the information minister, the reports and condemnation from the international community are ‘absolute misrepresentations.’ Mohammed added that ‘terrorists, politicians and activists are all confused about human rights.’

Between 2015 and 2019, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said it recorded four million cases of human rights abuse including; sexual abuse, gender-based violence, torture, extra judicial killings, child molestation, marital issues and domestic violence, among others.

In 2019 alone, over 100 women tagged as sex workers were arrested by security agents of the government, maltreated and locked up for walking the streets of the federal capital territory.

There have also been several reports of journalists and activists being detained and arrested for criticising the government and those close to them.

Recently, The ICIR reported about Alfred Olufemi and Shuaib Yushau, who were both arraigned before a magistrate court on charges of conspiracy and defamation, over report indicting company owned by Buhari’s aide.

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Another journalist and activist, Omoyele Sowere was locked up, despite court rulings granting him bail, for calling for a protest and demanding functional leadership from the current administration.

Despite the reports, the minister of information also maintained that the Buhari’s government is doing very well when it comes to freedom of the press.

“When it comes to freedom of the press we are doing extremely well,” the minister said.

Sometime in 2017, the presidency expelled Punch’s state correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo, from covering proceedings at the presidential villa.

It was gathered that the expulsion may have been connected to a story published by the newspaper, regarding the President’s health status.

In its 2019 World Press Freedom index report, Reporters without Borders ranked Nigeria 120 out of a 180 countries.

Nigeria’s World Press Freedom index ranking since 2013. Photo: Reporters without Borders.
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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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