International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) on Friday revealed that its website has been taken down five times and subsequently attacked with virus fifty times in five years under President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
It said that its official domain, https://intersociety-ng.org, has become one of the defenseless victims of civic space shrinking policy of the outgoing Government of Nigeria under Retired Major General Muhammad Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Citing this in a statement made available to News Express, the group said: “Intersociety’s website had in the past five years or 2018 to 2023 come under attacks, strongly linked to subversive agents of the named intolerant and grossly rights abusive Government.
“This is to the extent that our website had been shut down at least five times and attacked with Trojan virus or others 50 times; forcing us at great expense to spend a fortune to clear the Nigerian Government mess including restoring the website and retrieving our advocacy files back on the site.
“The shutting down of our website for weeks or days had occurred in 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and Tuesday, 4th April 2023. The website had also suffered not less than fifty virus attacks since then, on average of ten severe virus attacks per year.
“The latest shutdown of our website occurred on Tuesday, 4th April 2023 and on enquiry, we were informed in writing by our domain host that “our website hosting has been suspended as a result of numerous complaints and petitions against the site and this report and majority of the petitions are from your region (Nigeria).”
Intersociety said that the attacks are secretly linked to Nigerian Government’s subversive agents over its advocacy works.
It noted that further investigations following the shutdowns revealed that they secretly emanated from the subversive agents of the outgoing Government of Nigeria located in the military, spy police and cyber and general information departments and ministries.
“For purpose of setting the record straight, Intersociety is highly knowledgeable human rights, democracy, rule of law and citizens’ security and safety advocacy Organization.
“We are also seven years older than the outgoing Federal Government of Nigeria, having been formed in July 2008 as against the outgoing Nigerian Government which came on board in late May 2015,” the group said.
Intersociety in the statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman at Intersociety, Ositadinma Agu, Head, Contacts and Mobilization Department, said it has earned international voice and respectability in matters of unbiased, non-discriminatory and forensic research, investigation, documentation and publications using its expert-volunteers including criminologists, security and peace studies experts, lawyers, journalists and so on.
It added: “Our reports have credibly and this formed part of academic projects and theses and international Governments and diplomatic policies and statements especially in the areas of religious freedom and worship or belief; promotion of democracy and rule of law and advancing citizens’ civil liberties or fundamental human rights, etc.”
Harping on a sub head, ‘Buhari/Osinbajo Govt Founded By ‘Lagos School Of Rights And Democracy’ Now A Civilian Tyranny, the group said: “It is shocking and disbelieving that the outgoing Central Government of Buhari/Osinbajo founded by the ‘Lagos School of Democracy and Human Rights’ has heavily wobbled and rapidly transformed into a civilian tyranny.
“While the original person of Retired Major General Muhammad Buhari was never known to be a democrat and respecter of human rights and rule of law, those who pioneered his ‘civilian presidency’ in 2015 were highly respected and celebrated within and outside Nigeria as human rights and democracy champions and upholders of rule of law and societal decency.
“One of them is Professor Yemi Osinbajo, current outgoing Vice President of Nigeria; once respected professor of law and ‘activist lawyer’/defender of the downtrodden and social justice. Today, defense of human rights, democracy and rule of law in Nigeria or any part thereof have been egregiously and grisly bastardized by the same apostles of the ‘Lagos School of Democracy and Human Rights’.
“The worse of it all is that some, if not many of them have sold their consciences to the Devil and rapidly transformed into protectors of the Nigerian Government conduct atrocities including aiding and abetting the conduct atrocity perpetrators internationally summoned to the Hague, New York, Geneva, Brussels and Paris to defend themselves over strong allegations and indictments bordering on grievous rights abuses and violations contained in the international reports of Intersociety, Amnesty International and others.
“Nigeria’s Rights CSO Community has also been dangerously flooded with hundreds of mushroom and phantom NGOs-most of them Government registered and funded NGOs.
“According to a detailed study carried out and published in July 2021 by Mathew Page, a non-resident scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA, “there are presently about 360 pro-government NGOs in Nigeria incorporated since 2015 (under Buhari/Osinbajo Presidency) who thrive on government funding to champion illiberal causes and stop calls for reforms.
“They are separated from the mainstream NGOs that seek to advance democratic values and defend human rights. The about 360 government affiliated and incorporated NGOs are also those defending corrupt, insensitive or abusive acts”. Further checks have put the number of such leprous Government NGOs to about 600 as at end of 2022.”
While calling for the safety of Intersociety, Amnesty International-Nigeria and others from Govt. Censorship And Oblivion, Intersociety stressed that by recent insiders’ accounts, Amnesty International’s descend from a world-respected advocacy group to a mere government apologist organization in Nigeria allegedly started with the appointment of Ms Osai Ojigho as the Country Director in 2017.
According to the rights group, Amnesty International had built a reputation as the nemesis of successive dictatorial governments in Nigeria by her fearless intervention in critical human rights issues through incisive research, documentation and unbiased advocacy before her appointment.
It reeled out some of the notable human rights campaigns carried out by Amnesty International team with their shoulders high to include the killing of unarmed pro-Biafra supporters in the Southeast in 2016, the massacre of Shiites in Kaduna in December 2015, the killing of civilians by the Nigerian army in the Northeast in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the kidnapping of Chibok girls in 2014 among others.
“The fact that Amnesty International’s office and staff were frequently under attack within these periods attests to the effectiveness of their advocacy.
“Such was the prestige and respect that Amnesty International commanded around the country that poor Nigerians paste their stickers on their cars and doors to escape police brutality and extortion.
“However, things began to deteriorate rapidly allegedly shortly after the appointment of Osai Ojigho as Nigeria’s Country Director in 2017. Today, Amnesty International’s name in Nigeria is widely viewed as not worth more than the tissue paper especially under the watch of Ms. Ojigho as Country Director. Though Ms. Ojigho exited AI-Nigeria in later part of 2022 to join an international anti Christian persecution watchdog, the harms done on AI-Nigeria’s local popularity, corporate image, composition of its staffing and its core mandates in the country have continued to deteriorate.
“Some of such harms are trust issue, integrity of its top officials, dispassionate investigation of rights abuses irrespective of the geopolitical location, ethnicity or religious affiliation of the individual and group victims involved in Nigeria; government censorship and infiltration, etc. The Nigerian Section of the globally respected rights advocacy outfit is also battling with partisanship and possible Government moles in its folds.
“The era of Ms. Osai Ojigho as Nigeria’s Country Director of Amnesty International also did not go down well with individual and group victims of murderous anti Christian persecution in Nigeria. Under her watch, AI-Nigeria blindly played into the hands of the APC-led Government of Nigeria and adopted the Nigerian Government’s classification of the anti Christian butcheries as “Farmers-Herders’ Clash”; a censorship and cover-up jargon coined by the outgoing Government of Nigeria to protect Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and their jihadist terror attacks on Christians and their lands, houses and sacred places of worship.”
Continuing, Intersociety said: “It is also on record that Amnesty International under Ms. Osai Ojigho refused or declined to intervene in several serious cases of human rights violations in old Eastern Nigeria including the massacre of protesters in Rivers (Obigbo Army massacre) and Abia and several killings during #EndSars protest of October 2020.
“After the 2016 AI’s special report on killing of unarmed pro Biafra protesters, the Nigerian Section of the group became pressurized and infiltrated by Nigerian Government agents to the extent that it was alleged that some of its key officials in Nigeria doubled as appointees of some of the Sub-National Muslim Governments in Northern Nigeria.
“Intersociety had in the last four years brought to the notice of Amnesty International through our detailed reports and publications several serious cases of human rights violations in the South-East but none of them was attended to.
“Such cases ignored by AI-Nigeria included the killing of over 100 unarmed citizens and abduction and illegal detention of about 600 others including women in Obigbo, Rivers State in 2020, over 100 unarmed Eastern Nigeria by CP Abba Kyari led IRT in 2020 and 2021; the killings by Fulani herdsmen in South-East and the unlawful killing of unarmed civilians in their multiple hundreds and burning of thousands of defenseless civilian houses by the Nigerian military and its allied Ebubeagu militia in the South-East especially in Imo State, etc.
“Therefore, Amnesty International must rebuild its battered image by appointing a group of credible and committed human rights activists to lead the organization in Nigeria.
“That is to say that the Ransanjani-led board of Amnesty International in Nigeria must be dissolved and replaced with credible and committed human rights activists. The urgent need to dissolve the AI-Nigeria Board and reconstitute it with those with neutrality and human rights track records stems from widespread fear and strong
suspicion that the present Board and some, if not many of its members are very close and apologetic to the APC-led Government of Nigeria.”
Intersociety called on all hands to put all hands on deck to save the likes of Amnesty International-Nigeria and the African. Nigerian Section of the Human Rights Watch (USA) and defense of human rights, democracy and rule of law in Nigeria from the Nigerian.
“Government censorship and going into permanent oblivion. This is more so when what is befalling Amnesty International in Nigeria today, befell the Nigeria/African Research Section of the Human Rights Watch (USA) in 2016 when it was handed over to Nigerian Government sympathizers,” it added.