The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has called for tough actions against Amnesty International (AI) in the aftermath of revelations that it has no legal right to exist in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that the human rights watchdog should be made to regularise its status in the country in line with the laws of the land or leave the country.
“It has recently come to our notice that Amnesty International has no legal right to exist in the country-yet its Nigeria office has for years been antagonistic to the Nigerian authorities, even in the face of contrary information.
“And like we indicated previously, Amnesty International’s local operatives have been acting lately like members of the opposition in their responses to national issues- and we are surprised that its headquarters has not deemed it necessary to call those individuals to order.
“To underline the level of distrust for AI in the country, some Nigerians have on several occasions claimed that the international NGO is being used as cover by certain individuals to push self-interests.
“It is important to recall the role those local operatives played during the EndSARS crisis when, rather than play a neutral role, the group was willfully playing up fake news of a massacre that never was, and false narratives of casualty figures that it has not substantiated almost one year after, while completely ignoring the verifiable abuses including death and permanent disabilities that policemen suffered in the hands of riotous mobs in many cities.
“We are also aware of a school of thought among Nigerians that the group’s one-sided narrative may have to do with the Nigerian government’s refusal to embrace same-sex relationships”, it said.
BMO added that the human rights watchdog should be made to put up a structure that will make it easier to monitor the activities of its local operatives if it is to continue to operate in Nigeria.
“We believe that the authorities should ensure that international NGOs take more than a passing interest in the activities of their Nigerian offices by subjecting their reports to proper scrutiny.
“This, in our view, is because the operatives have constituted themselves into an arm of opposition groups in the country with their one-sided reports.
“A few weeks ago, we questioned the integrity of Amnesty’s recent report on the response of security agencies to acts of terrorism in South-East Nigeria where it overlooked the killing of policemen and other innocent Nigerians by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and rubbished the successful efforts to restore peace and order in the region.
“We are reaffirming our stance that the Nigerian office of AI was out to do a hatchet job on the security agencies, which, incidentally received a vote of confidence from the apex socio-cultural group in the region, Ohaneze Ndigbo, on the same day the rights group released its one-sided report.
“In fact, we see it as a continuation of years of unrestrained efforts by the rights group to diminish the country and its institutions in the eyes of the international community”.
BMO urged the relevant authorities to ensure that the international NGO regularises its legal status in Nigeria and also ensure that it operates within the laws of the land henceforth.