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69 protesters killed, 189 journalists arrested under Buhari regime – Report

An international human rights organisation, Global Rights, has said the administration of the former president, Muhammadu Buhari, was characterised by threats or intimidation of journalists and protesters.

The organisation added that Buhari made frantic efforts to suppress access to information, curtail freedom of expression, and monitor how and for what purposes citizens assembled.

Global Rights stated this in its report titled, “Shege! A scorecard on the Buhari administration’s impact on Nigeria’s civic space,” which was published on January 13, 2024.

The organisation said in the report, “In the eight-year term of President Buhari’s administration, Nigeria witnessed a notable decline on all frontiers of the civic space and basic freedoms. The administration was characterised by a suspicious relationship with the media, a frosty relationship with civil society organisations, and a clear desire to control access to information, curtail freedom of expression, and monitor how and for what purposes citizens assembled.

“There were also several legislative attempts made by the administration with regard to the civic space. If all these attempts made it into law, it is safe to say Nigeria would have emerged as one of the most repressive democracies globally.”

The report added that no fewer than 69 protesters were killed during the Buhari-led administration.

The organisation also said that an estimated 250 protesters and 189 journalists were arrested, detained, or harassed under the former president.

“The number of peaceful protesters killed: at least 69. Number of arrests made during peaceful protests: 250 (estimated based on available data)

“Instances of government interference in the activities of CSOs: At least four. Number of journalists arrested, detained, or harassed: more than 189,” it said.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the former President, Garba Shehu, declined comment on the issue, saying former Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, was the appropriate person to speak.

Efforts to reach the ex-minister were unsuccessful as calls to his mobile line did not connect.

Commenting on the report, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said, “Under Buhari, there were a lot of unlawful arrests and detentions of journalists and civil society activists. Do not let us forget the atrocities committed against the Shiite, that alone is enough to send him packing. Buhari also came up with legal frameworks to gag the civil society.”
He urged President Bola Tinubu not to toe that path.

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