Nigerian FlagCivic Freedom Monitor: Nigeria

Introduction | At a Glance | Key Indicators | International Rankings
Legal Snapshot | Legal Analysis | Reports | News and Additional Resources
Last updated 9 June 2017

Introduction

Nigeria is a federal republic whose basic law is the 1999 Constitution (as amended in 2010).

As a former British colony, the legal system of Nigeria follows the common law tradition, but there is also provision for the application of traditional or indigenous customary laws and Shari’a (i.e. Islamic-based) law. Customary and Shari’a law were previously limited to civil matters where all the parties consented, but after 1999 some states in the northern part of Nigeria extended Shari’a law to criminal matters and social interaction.

Nigeria is home to a wide variety of civil society and non-governmental organizations, some of which came into existence even before the country was formed in 1914, some in the period before Independence in October 1960, and many more since then.

The main laws that relate to CSOs are found in federal legislation. Because the Constitution guarantees freedom of association, there is no restriction on those who wish to join together for any kind of purpose, provided that the purposes for which the group is formed, or the methods that it uses are not themselves illegal. The range of CSOs is as wide and diverse as the country itself, ranging from local ‘elites’ clubs, traditional age grade associations and town unions in villages and small towns, to national organizations with thousands of members.

While not every group or association must register, those which wish to enjoy the benefits of having legal personality, or the limited tax advantages that may be available, must be registered or incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap. C20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Following the postponement of general elections scheduled in February 2015, Nigerians went to the polls in March 2015. The opposition alliance, All Progressives Congres (APC), won the Presidential elections, a majority of the seats in the two houses of the National Assembly, and recorded major successes at the State level. The victory of the APC's presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, represents the first time in Nigeria's history that an incumbent government was defeated at the polls. President Goodluck Jonathan also made history by accepting his defeat without any litigation whatsoever, and handing over power in May 2015.

The victory of Buhari and the APC was attributed to his pledge to prosecute the war against Boko Haram effectively and to fight corruption. The fulfillment of both of these pledges and a heavy-handed response to largely peaceful protests have left the government exposed to allegations of human rights abuses, however. The government has rejected these charges, insisting that it is upholding the rule of law while the army also rejects accusations of abuses and is publicly questioning the bona fides of those raising such concerns.

Protests by those supporting the leader of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) have, in some instances, also been met with violent crackdowns. A complaint has been lodged at the International Criminal Court about such crackdowns. Similarly, in response to what has been widely described as a violent massacre of Shiites in Kaduna, the Kaduna State Government has established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate. The Shiites, who have named 705 persons they believe are dead or missing as a result of the massacre, have insisted on the production of their missing leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, before they will appear before the Commission. There have also been efforts to break up protests by the #BringBackOurGirls movement, which demands the government exert its maximum capacity to free the nearly 280 schoolgirls that Boko Haram took captive in 2014 [1], and threats to break up nationwide protests against the country’s poor economic situation, bad governance and corruption. The Federal Government has, at least in some cases, however, deployed the police to protect--rather than thwart--protests.

With the precipitate fall in the price of oil, which still provides the bulk of Nigeria's overseas earnings and government income, the country faces severe economic challenges in addition to the above-mentioned issues of human rights and rule of law. After two years in office, despite the fact that President Buhari has prosecuted the war against Boko Haram effectively and fought corruption, his heavy-handed response to largely peaceful protests and arrests and beatings of bloggers and other journalists who have opposed his party continues to leave his administration exposed to allegations of human rights abuses.

[1] In October 2016 and May 2017 more than 20 and 80 girls, respectively, were exchanged in two negotiated deals with Boko Haram, in part due to pressure from the #BringBackOurGirls movement on the government to negotiate.

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At a Glance

Organizational Forms Civil society organizations (CSOs)
Registration Body Corporate Affairs Commission
Approximate Number Digitization has improved record-keeping, while decentralization has improved access for those searching for information on individual companies.
Barriers to Entry 1 - Minors, persons of unsound mind, undischarged bankrupts, and those convicted within the previous 5 years of an offence involving dishonesty cannot be registered as trustees or directors.
2 - The President may issue an order to prohibit a CSO that is “dangerous to the good government of Nigeria or of any part thereof.” 
3 - Both Nigerian and foreign CSOs seeking incorporation may face hurdles in the form of various requirements.
4- Ban on the registration of gay clubs, societies or organizations.
Barriers to Activities 1 - If a CSO wishes to engage in activity that involves a government Ministry, Department, or Agency (MDA), it may need to satisfy the criteria of that MDA.
2 - Some GONGOs are perceived as undermining independent CSOs.
3 - Certain state governments have been sought to pressure and even subvert CSOs.
4- Ban on the registration of gay clubs, societies or organizations.
5- President has the power to prohibit groups even if they are unregistered.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 not only makes same sex marriage illegal, but it also provides that: “Any person or group of persons that … supports the registration, operation, and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence …”

Bloggers and journalists who are critical of the country's leaders have come under increasing pressure, including arrest and being beaten and threatened to stop reporting.
Barriers to International Contact None
Barriers to Resources None
Barriers to Assembly Failure to provide protection for and excessive use of force on protests that oppose government policies and excessive government control over the route and time of protests.

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Key Indicators

Population 181,562,056 (July 2015 est.)
Capital Abuja
Type of Government Federal Republic
Life Expectancy at Birth Male: 52 years
Female: 54.1 years (2016 est.)
Literacy Rate Male: 69.2%
Female: 49.7% (2015 est.)
Religious Groups Muslim, Christian, indigenous
Ethnic Groups 250 or more, including Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, Idoma, Nupe
GDP Per Capita $6,100 (2015 est.)

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, (Washington, DC).

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International Rankings

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best - worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 152 (2015) 1 – 188
World Bank Rule of Law Index 11.5 (2014) 100 – 0
World Bank Voice & Accountability Index 29.6 (2014) 100 – 0
World Justice Rule of Law Project 96 (2015) 1 - 113
Transparency International 136 (2016) 1 175
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: Partly Free
Political Rights: 3
Civil Liberties: 5 (2017)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 7
1 – 7
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index Rank: 13 (2016) 178 – 1

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Legal Snapshot

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 1993
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) No --
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 1993
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) No --
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1967
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1984
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Yes 2004
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1991
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) No --
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2010
Key Regional Agreements Ratification* Year
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Yes 1975

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The current Constitution of Nigeria was adopted on May 29, 1999 and amended in May 2010.

Chapter IV of the Constitution enshrines fundamental rights, including the freedoms of association and assembly. Section 39 guarantees the right to receive and impart information. Section 40 guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and association. Section 45 permits these rights to be restricted in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health, or to protect the rights or freedoms of others.

Sections 39 and 40 provide as follows:

Section 39:

  1. Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
  2. Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions;
    Provided that no person, other than the Government of the Federation or of a State or any other person or body authorised by the President on the fulfilment of conditions laid down by an Act of the National Assembly, shall own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for, any purpose whatsoever.
  3. Nothing in this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
    (a) for the purpose of preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of courts or regulating telephony, wireless broadcasting, television or the exhibition of cinematograph films; or
    (b) imposing restrictions upon persons holding office under the Government of the Federation or of a State, members of the armed forces of the Federation or members of the Nigeria Police Force or other Government security services or agencies established by law.

Section 40: Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:

Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

Nigeria is a federal republic and the main laws that govern civil society are derived from federal legislation, including the following:

While criminal offences may be created by federal legislation, most criminal laws are state laws which derive from the Penal Code (originally applicable in 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory) and the Criminal Code (originally applicable in 17 southern states).

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

1. In June 2014, CSOs received the draft Bill to Regulate the Acceptance and Utilization of Financial/Material Contributions of Donor Agencies to Voluntary Organizations. The Bill imposes a number of restrictions on the ability of organizations to receive contributions from foreign sources. According to a preliminary analysis, the most problematic provisions are as follows:

  • Prior Approval is required to receive foreign funding (Section 2);
  • Registration is a pre-requisite for accepting foreign funding (Section 3);
  • Broad and vague grounds can be used to to deny a CSO's request to receive foreign funding if the government deems such contribution is likely to affect "the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria; adverse diplomatic relation of any foreign country; religious harmony in Nigeria; or be a likely source of money laundering" (Section 5);
  • There is a lengthy approval period and lack of procedural protections when CSOs seek approval from the government to receive foreign funding (Section 4);
  • There are vague and unclear financial reporting requirements (Sections 3 & 7);
  • The government may seize a voluntary organization's accounts and records for up to four months without bringing a proceeding before a court (Section 9);
  • Any violation of the Bill is punishable by imprisonment for two years (Section 12);
  • Funding must be routed through a Nigerian bank (Section 3(ii)); and
  • The Bill applies to all "voluntary organizations," but the definition of this designation is unclear (Section 14)

There has been no recent progress with the Bill to Regulate the Acceptance and Utilization of Financial/Material Contributions of Donor Agencies to Voluntary Organizations or the proposals for a Civil Society Regulatory Commission proposed by the National Conference (see #2 below). Both the Bill, which remains pending following its second reading in July 2016, and the proposals came against a background of a nation under threat from terrorism and insurgency, with few legislators being very conversant with the CSO sector. Feedback from public hearings about the Bill and the proposals highlighted a number of flaws, which made it seem doubtful whether the attempts at controlling the civil society sector, as exemplified in the Bill and proposals, would be pursued in the present 8th Assembly. However, the fact that there appear to be three other Bills with the same aim of regulating the CSO sector and controlling its finances under discussion show that despite Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association, it does not seem that the National Assembly intends to give up on efforts to control CSOs even if the Bill and proposals are thwarted. These three other Bills are: Non-Governmental Regulatory Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016 (Bill has passed second reading and referred to the Committee on NGOs and Development Partners for further legislative input) (see #4 below); Civil Society Regulatory Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016 (First reading) (see #2 below); and Civil Society Commission of Nigeria Bill, 2016 (First reading) (see #6below).

2. The National Conference submitted its report to President Jonathan on August 21, 2014.  Among its resolutions were recommendations on civil society issues. The Conference proposed the creation of a “Civil Society Regulatory Commission (CSRC),” which would be “peopled by civil society activists and … free from undue state’s interference that will regulate the conduct and activities of civil society organizations in Nigeria,” with the following functions:

  1. Registering CSOs in Nigeria;
  2. Sanctioning CSOs that abuse the ethics or rules of the Commission; and
  3. Proposing that grants be made available by the National Assembly to CSOs.

The Conference report proposed that “statutory funds to be known as ‘Civil Society Grants/Funds be annually appropriated by the National Assembly for civil society activities, in order to strengthen the ability of CSOs to perform their watchdog roles, act as checks against impunity by state actors, and to enthrone an open, just and accountable society.  The Fund/Grant shall be managed by the CSRC.”

The National Conference also recommended the enactment of a “Civil Society Consultation Act” to inter alia:

  1. Formalize some level of civic power within the three tiers of government in Nigeria;
  2. Strengthen the link between citizen rights to participate in governance and actual participation itself;
  3. Mandate that government put in place structures and programs for consulting and dialoguing with citizen organizations;
  4. Define the level of civil society representation and participation in public regulatory bodies;
  5. Provide in clear terms the way in which government must involve civil society in drawing up the budget and implementing it;
  6. Provide for Annual General Assembly between government and civil society or Annual National Conference between civil society and government;
  7. Provide for Town Hall Meetings between Civil Society and Chairmen of Local Councils; and
  8. Provide for periodic evaluation of both official and unofficial spaces of citizen participation in governance. This will be with a view of reinforcing both models and getting the best out of them.

None of the decisions of the National Conference are self-executing, and those regarding civil society would require legislation.  To the extent that constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of association might be affected, some of the above proposals might also require constitutional amendments.  The National Conference could not agree (by consensus) whether it was proposing mere amendments to the existing Constitution (which would be effected in the same way as the previous amendments thereto) or whether it was proposing a n ew Constitution that would require ratification by referendum. It has therefore referred the matter to President Goodluck Jonathan for his decision.

3. There is before the National Assembly a bill to provide for the prohibition and punishment for electronic fraud and crime in all electronic transactions in Nigeria. Section 13 provides that: “Anyone who intentionally propagates false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through an electronic message shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment or a fine of N5 million.” It is feared that this legislation is designed to silence online criticism of the government and to restrict the ability of organisers of protests or demonstrations to coordinate their activities through social media.” There is currently no progress with this proposed legislation.

4. The Bill to Provide for the Establishment of a Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission passed its second reading in the House of Representatives on the July 15, 2016. (hereinafter "Bill"). The Bill contains a number of problematic provisions.

Regarding registration:

  • The Bill makes registration mandatory for all NGOs operating in Nigeria (Section 11).
  • The Bill provides that an organization's application for registration include extensive, detailed information, including the location and duration of all proposed activities and all sources of funding. Furthermore, the Bill makes the list of required information unrestricted, allowing that "the Board may prescribe" additional information that an organization must submit in its application (Section 11). Likewise, there is no limit on the fees that an organization must pay in order to register; the Bill provides only that "the Agency may from time to time prescribe" such fees (Section 12). The Bill also provides that the certificate issued by the Agency will serve as an organization's proof of registration and authorization to carry out activities in Nigeria. However, the Agency has unlimited authority to prescribe any additional terms and conditions in the certificate, with which the organization must comply (Section 14). An NGO that violates the terms of the certificate can have its registration suspended or cancelled (Section 18(a)).
  • Under the Bill, the Regulatory Agency For The Supervision, Coordination And Monitoring Of Non-Governmental Organizations (the "Agency") has broad discretion to refuse to issue a registration certificate, and to suspend or cancel a registration certificate that has been issued. It may refuse to register an organization, for instance, if it determines that the organization's proposed activities "are not in the national interest" (Section 15).
  • The Bill requires that organizations repeat the registration process every two years (Section 14). Any organization that fails to do so will have its name removed from the register and must cease activities (Section 17). The organization has no opportunity to remedy its failure to reregister if, for instance, it misses the renewal deadline. Moreover, the Bill provides that registration renewal is dependent on the organization's submission of unspecified "relevant documentation" as determined by the Board (Section 16(2)) and a tax clearance certificate (Section 30(2)).

Regarding government approval of projects and financial reporting:

  • The Bill requires prior approval of all in-country projects by the relevant government Ministry, followed by registration of the project with the Board of the Agency (Section 25(1)) prior to any project implementation (Section 26(2)).
  • The Bill requires that if a significant percentage of donor contributions to an organization go to meet the "economic, social and cultural" needs of a "target group," the organization must "consult and seek the approval and collaboration of the Ministry concerned with the activity to ensure that the project is in line with the objective of the Government" (Section 24(1)(b)). "Target group" is not defined and it is unclear how the approval requirement of Section 24 differs from the approval requirements of Sections 25 and 26, or if additional permission is needed based on the identity of the target beneficiaries.
  • The Bill also states that any assets "transferred to build the capacity of an organization should be done through the Agency, which will identify the operation criteria." It is unclear how assets transferred to build capacity are different from funding referred to elsewhere in this section, but this section appears to require funding for capacity-building to be sent from the donor to the Agency instead of the organization. It is also unclear what is meant by "operation criteria," or how a transfer of assets would be conducted through the Agency. This provision violates organizations right to access resources which is an essential component of the right to associate (A/HRC/23/39).
  • Section 28 of the Bill contains requirements affecting organizations' financial reporting. Many of these provisions are framed broadly, and in ambiguous language that may make them difficult for organizations to implement. For example, the Bill requires an organization to "submit the details of the funds pledged by donors for project implementation" (Section 28(1)). However it does not provide more specific information about the timing and frequency of this submission, such as whether it must be provided on an annual, quarterly, or project basis. The funding disclosure must include "the amounts of money pledged, the sources of funding, the details of the donors and any other details of installment [sic] arrangements or any other requirements" (Section 28(2)). It is unclear what "any other requirements" might entail; an open-ended list is problematic as additional, more burdensome items may be required.

Regarding judicial oversight and criminal penalties:

  • According to the Bill, an organization has a sixty-day window to appeal any of the Agency's decisions to the Ministry of National Planning. The Minister must decide on the matter within thirty days, and the decision is "final." The Bill does not provide for any judicial or otherwise independent oversight, even for crucial matters such as the granting and withdrawal of registration certificates.
  • The Bill provides for harsh criminal penalties for individuals in case of any violation of the Bill. The Bill specifically criminalizes the operation of an NGO in Nigeria "for welfare, research, health relief, agriculture education, industry, the supply of amenities" that has not first registered. An individual operating an unregistered NGO may face a steep fine or 18 months' imprisonment. Further, any individual so convicted is disqualified from holding office in an NGO for ten years. NGO members are thus exposed to severe criminal punishments that will create a chilling effect on their exercise of the right to freedom of association.

Regarding other issues:

  • Section 2 stipulates that the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and six members of the Board will be nominated by "different interest groups within the Non-Governmental Organization family," (Section 2(1)(a)), while "[a]ppointment into the Board shall be by election among the Non-Governmental Organizations." It is unclear which different interest groups will be responsible for nominating the Board leadership, as well as if and how all NGOs will be fairly represented in this process.
  • The Bill seeks to group CSOs under a new organizational form, "Non-Governmental Organization," defined as "a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations, not operating for profit or for other commercial purposes but which have organized themselves nationally or internationally for the promotion of social welfare, development, charity, or research." This definition could be interpreted to exclude organizations primarily engaged in work that is not explicitly referenced, such as advocacy organizations.
  • Throughout the Bill, vague language creates uncertainty. For example, Section 7 and Part VII of the Bill refer to a "commission," when discussing the functions of the Agency, while Section 20(3) refers to a "Council" which appears to refer to the Board.

5. There was a Public Hearing on the Frivolous Petitions Bill (known as the “Anti-Social Media Bill”) on March 8, 2016. The Attorney-General criticized the proposed Bill as likely to hinder press freedom and violate the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.  However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria in remarks delivered on his behalf expressed support for the Bill. In the face of opposition from both civil society and the Executive, the Senate withdrew the Bill in April 2016.

6. The Civil Societies Regulatory Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016 passed its Second Reading in the House of Representatives on the July 14, 2016.

7. The House of Representatives is presently considering Improved Aid Effectiveness, Accountability and Co-operation for Donor Recipients Bill, 2016.  This Bill seeks to provide a framework for timely publication, transparent reporting and disclosure by all donor and development partners of application of donor funds in Nigeria.  The Bill has passed second reading and has been referred to the Committee on Aid, Loans and Debt Management for further legislative input. 

8. The Nigerian Agency for Foreign Assistance Bill, 2015 has passed second reading and been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  This Bill seeks to establish "The Nigerian Agency For Foreign Assistance (NAFFA)”.  The proposed Agency would be empowered to manage and coordinate all foreign assistance or aid in Nigeria.  It would also act as an advisory body to the Federal Government on all foreign assistance matters and monitor the implementation of and compliance with all Federal Government directives and incentives.

9. The Lagos State Government plans to review the state’s 2003 Media Law (Newspaper Law Cap No. 2 of 2003) but insists the review is not for the purpose of stifling the media, but to "move with the trends and development of the time." The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy assured in May 2017 that once the review is completed, media stakeholders will be invited to a meeting in order to intimate them with the provisions of the law and their obligations before its enactment. He also said the review is about "how the ministry can be empowered to register online media, tract who is who and from where they are operating."

10. Following the 2016 revision of FATF Recommendation 8, which now calls on countries to apply proportionate measures only towards NPOs identified as being at risk, the Federal Government conducted a National Risk Assessment.  However, it was not published, so it is not known whether the Federal Government carried out any risk assessment of the not-for-profit sector that would have implications for the sector.

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Legal Analysis

Organizational Forms

A wide range of CSOs may be formed in Nigeria simply by individuals coming together for whatever collective purposes upon which they have agreed, provided those purposes are lawful. They include companies limited by guarantee, associations with incorporated trustees, unincorporated associations, co-operatives, and traditional organizations akin to friendship societies, such as town unions and other mutual benefit organizations.

For CSOs seeking legal entity status, the two most frequent options are associations with incorporated trustees and incorporation as a company limited by guarantee. Both of these forms of registration are governed by the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and are handled by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

A company limited by guarantee is formed for the promotion of commerce, art, science, religion, sports, culture, education, research, charity, or other similar purposes. The income and property of the company is applied solely towards the promotion of its purposes.

An association with incorporated trustees is an association of persons that appoints one or more trustees and pursues registration under Part C of the CAMA. There are two types of associations with incorporated trustees. The first type occurs where trustees are appointed by a community of persons bound together by customs, religion, kinship or nationality; the second type arises where trustees are appointed by a body or association of persons established for any religious, educational, literary, scientific, social, development, cultural, sporting, or charitable purpose.

Public Benefit Status

Under the Companies Income Tax Act (CITA), the profits of a company engaged in ecclesiastical, charitable, or educational activities of a public character, or promoting sporting activities are exempt from income tax. Not-for-profit companies engaged in other activities may apply to the President of Nigeria for an order to exempt them from taxation on their income or profits, no matter what the source.

In addition, incorporated Nigerian companies donating to Nigerian CSOs engaged in ecclesiastical, charitable, or educational activities of a public character, or to any of the bodies listed in the Fifth Schedule to the CITA, may claim tax relief for donations of up to 10 percent of their profits. Individuals, however, do not receive any tax relief for donations to Nigerian CSOs.

Barriers to Entry

There are several potential barriers to the formation of CSOs in Nigeria:

Potential Founders, Trustees, Directors. At least two persons over 18 are required to form a company, although minors may join in formation. Minors, persons of unsound mind, undischarged bankrupts, and those convicted within the previous five years of an offence involving dishonesty cannot be registered as trustees or directors.

Presidential power to prohibit organizations. While Nigerian law does not prohibit the formation or operation of unregistered groups, the President may issue an order to make unlawful a CSO that is “dangerous to the good government of Nigeria or of any part thereof.”  Although there are few examples of organizations that have been refused registration because of such an order, this power has been used against unregistered organizations. For example, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was proscribed by the Obasanjo administration; the group is non-violent but seeks secession or the break-up of Nigeria. The radical Islamic sect Boko Haram has also been proscribed: while this was clearly a reaction to the violent methods of the Boko Haram group itself, other peaceful Islamist groups have found themselves the target of police raids and arrests after being wrongly tagged “Boko Haram” members.

Registration Procedures. Both Nigerian and foreign CSOs seeking incorporation under the CAMA may face hurdles in the form of various requirements. For example:

  • A CSO that wishes to incorporate as a company limited by guarantee needs to have its structure approved by the Federal Government. There is no specific procedure for securing such approval, but applications are handled by the Attorney-General of the Federation. CSOs adopting this procedure may be required to make adjustments; for example, a CSO with educational objects may be required to have a director with a background in education on its board. Generally, however, difficulties that CSOs experience are more likely to be due to administrative bottlenecks or inefficiency than to attempts at political control.
  • A CSO can challenge any refusal to make a decision on its application for registration by applying for an order of mandamus to compel the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to take a decision. However, there is no fixed time for deciding on an application.
  • For associations with incorporated trustees, each change to its trustees or its registered constitution must be published in newspapers with an unspecified waiting period before any changes can take effect. Any member of the public can object to the proposed change or to the CSO’s original incorporation. While the affected CSO may challenge any objection, the process causes delays.
  • The proposed trustees of CSOs may be required by CAMA to undergo a police background check, although these powers are rarely exercised in the case of incorporated trustees.
  • Registration fees must be paid as stipulated in subsidiary regulations under the CAMA. The fees range from N21,000 (US$150) for the registration of Incorporated Trustees to N10,000 (US$75) for a company whose nominal share capital does not exceed one million naira (US$7,500). While these fees are relatively modest, not-for-profit organisations do not enjoy any waivers or reduced fees. They must also pay stamp duty on their registration or incorporation documents.

Foreign Organizations. Foreign CSOs may be incorporated just as local CSOs under CAMA. However, they must comply with the same rules as local organizations. This means they are prohibited from having a name that may be acceptable in their home countries but which could be interpreted in Nigeria to be the name of a government body (thus "National" in the name of a foreign CSO could be considered problematic).

A foreign CSO that is not able to incorporate under CAMA may still operate in Nigeria if it is registered with the National Planning Commission. This status is achieved when the Ministry grants the foreign CSO’s request for a bilateral agreement. Once the agreement is completed, the foreign CSO has legal personality in Nigeria. However, that status comes at the price of fairly extensive control by the Ministry, which acquires powers over the operation of the foreign CSO. The Ministry may appoint members to its Board, approve the hiring of its key personnel, and approve its budget because the essence of the bilateral agreement is that the foreign CSO becomes a quasi-consultant to the Ministry.

Gay Organizations. The registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations is prohibited under Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, which President Jonathan signed into law in January 2014.  It should be noted, however, that no society or organization that is formed for unlawful purposes can be registered in any event, but the Act specifically bars the registration of gay organizations.

Barriers to Operational Activity

Additional registration or certification requirements. If a CSO wishes to engage in some activity that involves a government Ministry, Department, or Agency (MDA), it may need to satisfy the criteria of that MDA. For example, a CSO that wishes to engage in election observation may need to seek registration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Refusal by the INEC to register the CSO would not mean that the CSO would cease to exist or prevent the members of that CSO from engaging in election observation (provided that its members could do so within the rules generally applicable to election observation). However, members of a CSO that is registered with INEC would probably be issued some kind of identification that would enable its members to move freely and enter certain locations, such as collation centres, that otherwise would be closed off to the general public.

A CSO that is providing developmental support – e.g., digging boreholes for water or providing some educational support – might seek to be registered with the relevant state or federal MDA, at least for the purpose of facilitating communication. Many CSOs, however, carry out such activities without seeking to be placed on any such “approved list.”  Registration with an MDA is not to be confused with incorporation by the CAC, as it is the latter that confers legal personality. In some cases, depending on the objects for which an organization is formed, the CAC requires a prospective association to secure prior certification by a particular ministry or department.

GONGOs. The government has established government NGOs or “GONGOs.”  For example, during the 2007 elections, election-observation organizations sprang up and were recognized and accredited by the INEC. This was perceived as an attempt to undermine and overshadow the statements that were issued by independent CSOs that were critical of the conduct of the elections.

Harassment. While CSOs have not been subject to harassment by the Federal Government, certain state governments have been known to attempt to pressure and even subvert CSOs and to single out certain CSOs for special adverse treatment. In such cases, however, CSOs have the right to challenge the government in court.

From time to time, the police attempt to claim that they have power to restrict the rights of Nigerians to hold public meetings based on colonial-era legislation, but in view of the constitutional guarantees on freedom of association and assembly, such powers are often successfully challenged in the courts.

Prohibition on gay clubs, societies, and meetings. In January 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which bans same-sex marriages and civil unions and prohibits the registration of gay clubs, societies or meetings in Nigeria.  It also prohibits their “sustenance, processions and meetings.” It is not required that any group of people register, but the President has the power to prohibit groups or organisations even if they are unregistered. The Act appears to prohibit gay clubs and organisations even without the need for presidential intervention; however, the constitutionality of this provision against freedom of assembly and association guarantees has not yet been tested.

Foreign Organizations.  Foreign CSOs may be incorporated just as local CSOs under CAMA, but must comply with the same rules as local organizations with regard to names which are acceptable in their home countries, but which are deemed to be capable of being interpreted as the names of government bodies.“

Case of Borno State and Boko Haram. This military effort has put Boko Haram on the back foot since 2015, with reports that some of its members are attempting to blend into the local population in Borno State, which is the locus of the insurgency. There are concerns about Boko Haram retreating to local villages or even IDP camps and the government has been embarrassed over reports of starvation in northeastern Nigeria. There have also been reports of the government appropriation of aid intended for IDPs and other abuses of IDPs. Governor Shettima of Borno State also condemned the UN and other international CSOs for profiting from the crisis and spending more on themselves and armored vehicles than on IDPs or the population. When this attracted blowback from the UN and the international community, the Governor said that he had been referring to local NGOs. Although no local CSOs working in Borno State have funds for armored vehicles, the Borno State Government now requires all local CSOs to register and gain accreditation. The process does not appear to be settled and is thus considered to be haphazard, but all CSOs are affected and not only CSOs working with IDPs.

In terms of operations in Borno State, NGOs have been required to go to the Borno State Government House to collect a 15-page registration form, which required nearly 70 supporting documents.  These requirements have been modified but the process is still unsettled.  At first the Borno State Government said that NGOs that had not been registered or accredited would not be permitted to enter IDP camps or to hold workshops. This has also been modified, but the Department of State Security (DSS) has attended a number of CSO workshops and attempted to stop them on the grounds that they have not been authorized. There are also increasingly frequent checks by the Nigerian Immigration Service on the immigration status of CSO members.

Barriers to Speech / Advocacy

Companies registered under CAMA are prohibited from making any donation or gift to a political party, or from making any gift or donation “for any political purpose” (Section 38(2) of CAMA). Any breach of this prohibition could result in the officers and any member of the company that voted for such a donation being liable to refund the amount or value of the gift to the company and could also result in conviction and fines in an amount equal to the value of the gift. Human rights and pro-democracy CSOs have not been affected by these provisions, which have been interpreted as applying to partisan politics, registered political parties, and candidates for elective offices.

The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014 does not prohibit any advocacy for a change in the law on homosexuality, but makes it an offence to “support the registration, operation, and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria …” After an initial wave of activity, there appears to be little effort on behalf of the government to enforce the provisions of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act. However, a challenge to the Act failed when the Federal High Court in Abuja struck the case for lack of standing.

Bloggers came under increasing pressure in Nigeria in 2016, especially when they challenged the ruling party. For example, Abubakar Usman, who is known for his strong pro-APC views (APC is the ruling party), was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged cyberstalking in August 2016. The EFCC said Mr. Usman’s activities contradicted sections of the Cybercrime Act. Usman was released after spending more than 36 hours in custody, but was placed on ​an ​administrative bail with conditions that he must make himself available to the EFCC whenever he receives an "invitation" from the EFCC. The trend has not improved in 2017, with reports of the Kaduna State Government arresting those whom it accuses of making false reports on the Internet; the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board demolishing Breeze FM, a privately owned station that was licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission; and two journalists beaten and later told to never write anything against the Ebonyi State government (see the News Items section velow in this report for more details).

Barriers to International Contact

There are no restrictions preventing Nigerian CSOs from contacting and cooperating with colleagues in civil society, whether inside or outside the country. CSOs are also free to cooperate with and contact businesses or government bodies, subject to the desire or requirements of any such body. The National Planning Commission has overall responsibility for managing multilateral and bilateral economic co-operation, development aid and technical assistance, and to this end, has embarked on the registration of international and local CSOs, with a view to ensuring that they operate in line with Nigeria’s direction and vision.

Barriers to Resources

There are no major legal barriers to resources under Nigerian law. A CSO may conduct business activities directly, but where incorporated with trustees or limited by guarantee they must apply the proceeds of such economic activity to the purposes of such organization. Registered CSOs are free to compete for government funds if this accords with the purposes for which they were established.

While there is no restriction barring CSOs from receiving foreign funding, it would strengthen civil society if there were some incentive for Nigerian citizens to contribute to or fund CSOs and obtain tax relief for doing so. However, there is some indication that even though the Nigerian government itself receives foreign funding support, it finds it convenient to to berate or criticize civil society as being “sponsored” by foreign interests, with the underlying suggestion that such organizations are unpatriotic and – by criticizing government – are being paid to act contrary to Nigeria’s interests.

In October 2011, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Civil Society and Donor Agencies, stated that its duties included the formulation of policies and guidelines for the coordination and regulation of the activities of external donor agencies in Nigeria and expressed concern at the lack of coordination of foreign development assistance and the possibility of duplication. It also stated its intention to track and monitor foreign assistance.

Barriers to Assembly

The Nigerian Constitution, in Section 40, protects the freedom of assembly: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely …” The Public Order Act regulates assemblies.  Since coming into force in 1990, the Public Order Act has been the subject of litigation. In 2007, the Court of Appeal quashed several sections of the Public Order Act; the Court’s decision, however, has not yet been reflected in legislative changes.

Notification
Previously notification was required, but this is no longer the case. Now if event organizers notify the police, it is for the purpose of arranging police protection. In 2007 the Court of Appeal quashed several sections of the Public Order Act, including one section relating to advance notification in All Nigeria Peoples Party v. Inspector-General of Police. In the lead judgment, Adekeye JCA held:

“The Public Order Act should be promulgated to compliment sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution in context and not to stifle or cripple it.  A rally or placard carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state.  It is a trend recognized and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilized countries – it will not only be primitive but also retrogressive if Nigeria continues to require a pass to hold a rally.  We must borrow a leaf from those who have trekked the rugged path of democracy and are now reaping the dividend of their experience (italics added for emphasis).”

In his contribution Mohammed JCA said:

“In present day Nigeria, clearly a Police Permit has outlived its usefulnessCertainly in a democracy, it is the right of citizens to conduct peaceful processions, rallies or demonstrations without seeking and obtaining permission from anybody.  It is a right guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution and any law that attempts to curtail such right is null and void and of no consequence (italics added for emphasis).”

Time, Place and Manner Restrictions
The surviving portion of Section 1 of the Public Order Act empowers a State Governor to prescribe the route by which and the times at which any procession may pass. In addition, while the use of uniforms in general is not prohibited, and indeed, is specifically permitted by section 7 of the Public Order Act, section 7 does prohibit the wearing of any uniform if the Commissioner of Police in the state is of the opinion that wearing it is offensive or is likely to provoke a breach of the peace.

Enforcement
In practice the State sometimes uses force to break up assemblies even where these are peaceful.  The basis for allowing some assemblies to go ahead while preventing others appears arbitrary, but can usually be traced to the political interests of the government in power, since the Nigeria Police Force – although ostensibly a service for the entire Federation – is answerable to the President, and thus more likely to do his bidding, either express or anticipated.

Where political issues are at stake, the police response may be dictated by the political interests of those in power.  In January 2010, when then President Umaru Yar’Adua was absent without explanation, demonstrations calling for a proper resolution of the crisis and formal handover of power to then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan were well policed in major cities.  But in January 2012, when Nigerians demonstrated against a fuel price increase under the rubric #OccupyNigeria, the police initially provided protection but then changed strategy toward the continuing demonstrations, which were broken up or prevented by a show of force from the police and the armed forces. The reason given for the volte face was said to be intelligence reports that Boko Haram was planning to take advantage of the demonstrations and protests to foment trouble in Nigeria. The excuse about the fear that protests are going to be hijacked is frequently resorted to by Nigerian authorities.

Problems with enforcement and prohibitions on freedom of assembly continued in 2015. In the northern part of the country, following clashes between the Nigerian Army and a Shiite group (the Islamic Movement in Nigeria), which led to as many as 700 civilian deaths, several governors banned protests. At around the same time, in Rivers State in the south of the country, pro-Biafra marches were banned by the state governor. In the run-up to gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa State, also in the south, protests were banned by the Nigeria Police. In January 2017, the police also broke up a protest in favor of US President Donald Trump by the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), which led to the death of a protestor.

#BringBackOurGirls Protests
Two weeks after the abduction by Boko Haram of more than 250 schoolgirls from the Federal Government Girls College at Chibok in Borno State on the night of April 14, 2014, some concerned citizens began to gather daily at 3pm at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to express their concern at the apparent indifference of the authorities to the fate of the girls and to demand action by the government.

Under the general appellation ‘Women for Peace and Justice’ and the twitter slogan/hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, the campaign spread across Nigeria with marches and demonstrations in several major Nigerian cities, but with particular focus at the Unity Fountain. Despite complaints from the Presidency that the protests were sponsored by the opposition APC party in a plot to bring down the Jonathan administration, the National Police Force (NPF) generally facilitated the operations of the #BringBackOurGirls marchers. Organizers informed the authorities of their intentions to hold rallies, and the NPF provided logistical support, including diverting traffic where required.

Nonetheless, on May 28, 2014 "thugs" who were rumored to be sponsored by the government attacked protesters, smashing their chairs and snatching their bags and mobile phone handsets. There was not appropriate police intervention to restrain or arrest the attackers. The rumors were that the thugs received 3,000 naira (approximately $18.50) each and arrived in government buses, which, in addition to the lack of police response to their aggression and the wife of the President's orders to arrest leading protesters, is why the thugs are seen as being government-sponsored. The thugs operated under a separate hashtag #ReleaseOurGirls, which is a name intended to be directed at Boko Haram, who kidnapped the schoolgirls, rather than the government for its perceived inaction. Some of thugs later admitted to having been paid 3,000 naira after meeting a team of Ministers and Special Advisers to the President, and said that they were transported to the Unity Foundation to replace the #BringBackOurGirls protesters.

Meanwhile, in a program broadcast live on the Nigerian Television Authority on May 27, 2014, a participant in a panel discussion said, “Mr. President, Bring Back Our Girls,” to which the government spokespersons on the panel responded by shouting her down and insisting “It is RELEASE Our Girls,” and accused her of “being APC”.  The Minister of Information later alleged that 90% of the #BringBackOurGirls protesters were APC members.

On June 2, 2014, the Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja, CP Joseph Mbu, issued a statement in which he declared that all protests connected with the abducted Chibok schoolgirls were banned with immediate effect. Following strong condemnation of this attempt to restrict the right to freedom of assembly, the Inspector-General of Police stated that Mbu’s statement was merely advisory considering the security challenges in the country, and that no ban had been issued. However, the #BringBackOurGirls protesters challenged CP Mbu’s statement in court, and on the June 4, 2014, the High Court of the FCT ruled that the NPF had no power to ban rallies and protests. 

Restriction on protests of the #BringBackOurGirls movement have nonetheless continued since 2014, with a #BringBackOurGirls protest as recently as January 2017 broken up by hundreds of police.

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Reports

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Universal Periodic Review: Nigeria (2009)
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs

Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders (2006)

Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (2007)

USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes Nigeria
U.S. State Department 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria
Fragile States Index Reports Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index
Human Rights Watch 2015 Report
IMF Country Reports Nigeria and the IMF
International Commission of Jurists Not available
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Nigeria

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News and Additional Resources

 

General News

Two journalists attacked in Abakaliki (June 2017)
Two journalists, Charles Otu of the Guardian newspaper, and Samuel Nweze, publisher of the People's Leader, have been attacked in Abakaliki, Ebonyi. The Police Public Relations Officer, Jude Madu, confirmed the two incidents and said that the police have launched investigation to unravel the motive behind the attacks. "The reports of the attacks on two journalists are before the police and we have launched investigation to unravel the motive behind the attacks and identities of those involved," Mr. Madu said. Mr. Otu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abakaliki that suspected political thugs accosted him at about 6.p.m. on Friday at Vanco Junction in Abakaliki and started beating him with clubs and other dangerous weapons.

Demolition of Breeze 99.9 FM, Lafia shocking (May 2017)
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has described the demolition of the structures housing the Breeze 99.9 FM, Lafia as "shocking and unbelievable". The structures were demolished on Saturday, May 20, 2017, by the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board (NUDB), over alleged violation of approved land laws. Mrs. Franca Ayetan, NBC Zonal Director for North-Central, who led a team on a verification visit to the destroyed station on Monday, said that the development was surprising because the station followed due process in obtaining its broadcast license.

Security forces must avoid repression of Biafra day protests (May 2017)
The Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint when policing demonstrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Biafra War on 30 May, and avoid a repetition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down, said Amnesty International today. "Last year's heavy-handed response against pro-Biafra activists further stirred up tensions in the south east of Nigeria. The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful detention," said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Lagos set to review Media law (May 2017)
The Lagos State Government has said it has concluded plans to review the existing Media Law in the state to ascertain the true figure of the publishing media houses that operate in the state in order to effectively regulate their activities. State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde said Tuesday while briefing journalists in Alausa that the exiting Media law in the state has become obsolete, adding that the review was necessitated by the need to make the law more effective and in tune with modern day reality.

Nigerian journalist detained over WhatsApp comment granted bail (April 2017)
A journalist arrested by the Kaduna State command of the Nigeria Police for an alleged offence not related to his reportorial duties has been granted bail by a magistrate court. Midat Joseph, the Kaduna State correspondent of Leadership Newspapers, who is also the Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna Council, was released on Friday evening, colleagues said. Mr. Joseph and one Eusebius Yayock were arrested over alleged incriminating contributions on a WhatsApp group chat. Mr. Joseph was actually arrested over a comment on a Southern Kaduna Victims Support WhatsApp Group," his colleague said.

CSO Groups Decry Attack on Amnesty International (March 2017)
A group of civil society organisations finds the attack on Amnesty International, Abuja, very disheartening and considers it a huge set back, considering how much civil society organisations have fought to ensure the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International reported issues of arbitrary arrests both in the North East and Niger Delta; death penalties carried out in a Benin prison in Edo State; the killing of over 100 members and supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). None of these have been disproved by the protesters.

Army denies killing eleven IPOB members, to focus on insurgents (February 2017)
The Nigerian Army has warned that it will no longer tolerate spurious and unfounded allegations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that soldiers killed 11 of its members in Port Harcourt recently. The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations sixth division, Colonel ‎Aminu Iliyasu, described as ‎ baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful, that 11 of its members were killed by soldiers on January 20, 2017 in Port Harcourt during a solidarity rally to commemorate the election of Mr. Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.

Journalist arraigned, sent to prison over Southern Kaduna report (February 2017)
A journalist has been arraigned before a magistrate court in Kaduna on allegation of falsifying a news report about the Southern Kaduna crisis. Luka Binniyat, a Vanguard newspaper Kaduna correspondent, was accused of falsely claiming that five students of the state College of Education were killed by Fulani herdsmen. The report was published on January 24. Mr. Binniyat, who was invited for questioning by the State Security Service, SSS, Kaduna Command, drove himself to the SSS office, and after interrogation was handed over to the police who later charged him to court. The Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Yusuf, granted Mr. Binniyat bail on a N200,000 bond. A security source said the journalist's report that five students were killed at a road block erected by Fulani herdsmen along Gidan Waya-Pasakori road in Jema'a Local Government, compounded security situation and created tension that almost plunged Southern Kaduna into another cycle of killings.

Police arrest Premium Times publisher, Olorunyomi, reporter (January 2017)
The Nigeria police raided the head office of an online medium, Premium Times in Abuja, and arrested the newspaper's publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, alongside the judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu. Plain-clothes officers conducted a search at the office shortly after 5:00p.m. yesterday and said they were acting on a complaint filed by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. The arrests came days after Premium Times turned down the army's demand to retract news stories about the Nigerian Army and its operations.

One killed, journalist, others injured as IPOB rally support for Trump (January 2017)
At least one person was killed and several others injured during a march by supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in solidarity of the inauguration of the American President, Donald Trump and also to expose the plight of Biafrans to the world. Also, a journalist with The Authority, Mr. Willie Etim, was brutalized by some soldiers allegedly detailed to stop the demonstration while trying to take photos of the protesting youths. Meanwhile, a sociologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Sofiri Peterside has condemned the protest, saying Rivers State Government was not in support of the group, so, the protest should not have been allowed to take place.

Hundreds of policemen storm BBOG protest ground (January 2017)
Officers of the Nigeria police in their hundreds have stormed the Unity Fountain meeting ground of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement. The BBOG movement issued a statement announcing its intention to resume its protests demanding the release of the remaining 195 of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014. They said they would embark on daily marches to presidential villa entrance.

Nigerian governor apologizes to UN over aid criticism (January 2017)
The governor of Nigeria's embattled Borno state has apologized to the United Nations, saying his accusations that aid agencies are profiting from funds for people fleeing Boko Haram were aimed at local charities. "Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, we are grateful to the United Nations for all it has been doing toward rehabilitation and resettlement of our displaced people," Gov. Kashim Shettima said. He spoke as senior U.N. officials including Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon flew to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, to meet with him to discuss his damaging comments. Shettima has told state legislators that only eight of 126 registered aid agencies were doing good work, including the U.N. World Food Program and Population Fund. He criticized UNICEF, among others, though he included the children's agency on that list of praiseworthy groups.

Buhari accuses UN, others of exaggerating crisis in North-east Nigeria (January 2017)
President Muhammadu Buhari said the reports by local and international humanitarian agencies detailing the high level of deprivation in the war-ravaged north-east Nigeria were exaggerated. The president said the United Nations and other private humanitarian groups are deliberately hyping the level of the crisis for financial gains. The reproach came two days after the United Nations warned that more than five million victims of Boko Haram face serious food shortages in the coming year. "A projected 5.1 million people will face serious food shortages as the conflict and risk of unexploded improvised devices prevented farmers planting for the third year in a row, causing a major food crisis," the U.N. Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter Lundberg, said in a statement.

Petroleum Minister Kachikwu Uses DSS to Arrest Magazine Publisher (November 2016)
Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, recently instigated the arrest of an Ughelli-based publisher of a local tabloid, Ughelli Times Magazine, Mr. Daniel Ekiugbo. Mr. Ekiugbo's colleagues said the DSS arrested him in Ughelli over an alleged libelous report against the Minister. The publisher, who belongs to the Urhobo Media Group, has been neglected by his union members as well as the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state, since his arrest.

MDAs Not Complying With Provisions of FOI Act (September 2016)
Ministries, departments and agencies are not complying with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, a new report released yesterday by the Right to Know, a civil society organisation, has said. The report, which was released to mark the first celebration of the Universal Access to Information Day, said that the National Assembly which passed the bill that eventually became the FOI Act five years ago had never complied with the provisions of the Act. The Act requires all public institutions to proactively disclose certain information including how many staff they have, their salaries, grade levels and many more. However, the report found that this provision of the Act was not being complied with.

EFCC releases blogger, Abubakar Usman, from detention (August 2016)
Blogger Abubakar Usman has been released by the ​Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ​EFCC, after spending more than 36 hours in custody for ​alleged ​"cyberstalking"​,​ his lawyer said. Michael Bello said his client was released on ​an ​administrative bail with conditions that he must make himself available to the EFCC whenever he received an invitation to such effect.

Why we arrested blogger Abubakar Usman (August 2016)
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it arrested a pro-government blogger, Abubakar Usman, for alleged cyberstalking. In a statement by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday, the EFCC said Mr. Usman, a blogger and social media strategist known for his strong pro-APC views, was picked from his home in the Abuja suburb of Kubwa and was being quizzed by anti-graft agents. The EFCC said Mr. Usman’s activities contradicted sections of the Cyber Crime Act, but that he had been granted administrative bail and would be released after successfully providing sureties.

EFCC 'arrests' blogger over 'online publication' (August 2016)
Abubakar Sidiq, a political blogger, has been arrested by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a publication on his website. Michael Bello, Sidiq's lawyer, disclosed this to TheCable on Monday but did not give the full reason for the arrest, only saying it was because of "an online publication".

70 MDAs fail FOI compliance test (May 2016)
Despite its remarkable contribution to the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in May 2011, the Federal Ministry of Information, alongside other 70 public institutions, have failed the FOI compliance and transparency test conducted by the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC). The Abuja-based non-governmental body devoted to using FOI law to drive the demand and supply of publicly held information released its 2015 FOI Compliance Rankings for 116 Public Institutions at the weekend. Only 45 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) scored above the average in all the three benchmarks upon which the ranking is based.

Nigeria's Defence Headquarters (DHQ) issues warning to Social Media Users (May 2016)
Nigeria's Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has issued a warning to individuals using social media to spread distorted information. Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, stated that recent posts of videos, pictures and information on social media tend to threaten Nigeria's diplomatic interests with other nations. "DHQ hereby warns that it will not condone any unwholesome acts by persons or group seeking to engage in acts that are capable of causing breaking down of law and order in any part of the country", said Brigadier General Abubakar.

Journalist Arrested, Charged Over Report On Kaduna Governor, El-Rufai (May 2016)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Nigerian Government to drop all criminal charges against journalist Jacob Dickson and release him without delay. According to a statement made available to the press in Dakar on Wednesday by the CPJ, Dickson has been held in pre-trial detention on incitement charges.

Report raises concern over Cybercrimes Act (April 2016)
The African Media Barometer reviewing media landscape in Nigeria has raised concern that the recently enacted Cybercrimes (prohibition and prevention) Act is "emerging as a serious threat".The law was passed only this year and three people have already been taken to court over thing they wrote or did on the internet, according to the latest AMB report presented in Abuja this week.The Cybercrimes Act earned Nigeria a poor score, compared with scoring on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act.Abdulwaheed Odusile, president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, said the jailing of the "three colleagues" took the media world by shock.

Senate bows to public pressure, withdraws anti-social media bill (April 2016)
The Senate has withdrawn the Frivolous Petition Bill sponsored by Bala Ibn Na'Allah.The controversial bill was seen as an attempt to restrict freedom of expression.The withdrawal of the bill followed the report of the upper chamber's Committee on Human Rights and Legal Matters submitted by David Umar on Tuesday.The report made it clear the bill amounted to violation of citizens' rights, and contradicted extant laws, imposing duty of investigation on petitioners and serving as stumbling block to the fight against corruption.

PDP member arraigned for social media postings on WhatsApp (March 2016)
A People's Democratic Party (PDP) member, Deji Babington-Ashaye, was arraigned before a chief Magistrate court for calling a Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district a drugs Baron and jail breaker. Babington-Ashaye was reported to have said abusive words on Kashamu on "PDP WhatsApp group". He was alleged to have committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 249 (d) of the criminal code cap 29 Vol.11 laws of Ogun state of Nigeria 2006. 

Public Hearing on "Anti-Social Media" Bill (March 2016)
At the Public Hearing of the Frivolous Petitions Bill (known as the “Anti-Social Media" Bill) on March 8, 2016, the Attorney-General criticized the proposed Bill as likely to hinder press freedom and violate the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.  However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria in remarks delivered on his behalf expressed support for the Bill.

Government unveils first Freedom of Information web portal (March 2016)
Access to information received a boost when the Federal Government's Bureau of Public Service Reforms launched a Freedom of Information web portal.

Professor arrested at university for political criticism (February 2016)
In the current climate, the line between political criticism and hate speech is not always clear. Dr. John Danfulani was arrested and detained for a comment posted on Facebook, and has also been suspended by the university where he teaches. The lecturer has since been released on bail.

El-Rufai inaugurates panel of inquiry on Zaria Massacre (February 2016)
The Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, inaugurated the Judicial Commission of Inquiry he set up recently, following a clash between the followers of Shiite cleric, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and the Nigerian Army. On December 17, 2015, Mr. El-Rufai announced the establishment of a state Judicial Commission of Inquiry, with membership cutting across the academia, media and civil society. The Shiite group recently released a list of 705 people missing or presumed killed by the Nigerian Army during the clash.

Popular blogger remanded in prison over alleged defamatory post (February 2016)
The police in Lagos arraigned a publisher of a news website, Naijahottestgist.com, before a Federal High Court, Lagos for allegedly publishing a defamatory story against the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc. The Prosecutor told the court that the accused committed the alleged offences sometime in June, in Lagos. Section 24 (1) of the Cybercrime Act provides that any person who intentionally or knowingly sends a message which is grossly offensive or obscene and found to be false, by means of computer network, is liable on conviction to a fine of N7, 000 or three years imprisonment or both.

Military React to Report of Human Rights Abuse and Extra Judicial Killing (February 2016)
The media has been inundated with reports of Amnesty International allegations of gross human rights abuse and extra judicial killing of civilians against the Nigerian military. The Amnesty International report was released on 3 June 2015. Therefore, the Nigerian Military as a responsible corporate organization is bound to respond to these allegations in order to put the records in proper perspective. The military requested Amnesty International to provide a member for the investigation panel to look into the allegations but the invitation was not honored byAmnesty International.

Blogger remanded in prison over alleged libel (November 2015)
A Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded a 29 year-old blogger, Ike-Chima, in prison custody over alleged malicious publication against the Managing Director of United Bank of Africa (UBA). Ike-Chima was arraigned on a two-count charge before Justice Mohammed Yunusa who ordered his remand in prison pending the determination of his bail application. According to the prosecutor, the publication was for the purpose of causing annoyance,danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to the victim. According to the prosecutor the offences allegedly committed by the accused are punishable under sections 24(1)(b) of the Cyber-crime Prohibition Prevention Act.

Civil society groups ask UN to sanction Boko Haram sponsors (December 2014)
Four leading civil society organisations have petitioned the UN Security Council asking it to imposee sanctions against countries aiding and abetting the islamist group, Boko Haram. In the petition, the group led by Socio Economic Rights Advocacy Project called on the UN to immediately initiate and adopt a resolution “expressing grave concerns about the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in several parts of the North-East of Nigeria in the context of the armed conflict between the Nigerian government and the Islamist group Boko Haram.” It added, “We strongly believe that the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Northeast of Nigeria now meets the threshold of “definite threat to international peace and security” in Article 39 of the UN Charter, thus requiring immediate and urgent action by Member States of the Security Council.”

Police Ban Street Protests in Borno (August 2014)
The Borno State Police Command has banned protest and demonstration in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The ban, according to military and police sources, followed the attempted demonstrations by Gwoza (a town in Borno) communities at the Government House in Maiduguri over attacks and killings by Boko Haram and the alleged non-challant attitude of the security operatives. The Command in a press statement signed by spokesman DSP Gideon Jirin said, "Such intending demonstrations are capable of causing disharmony, anarchy and pandemonium. The command is advising such persons or group of persons to desist from such act in their own interest or face the wrath of the law. The public are hereby advised to remain calm and report any misconduct to security agencies."

#BringBackOurGirls protest march – Update (May 2014)
Protesters seeking to pressure the Nigerian Government to act and rescue 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram sect are driving their campaign to a new level. The #BringBackOurGirls protesters plan to march on Aso Rock, Nigeria's presidential villa. No protest group has ever marched on Aso Rock. The protesters face two challenges in their bid. Aso Rock is heavily protected by a special security arrangement and protected from the public. Only workers or invited guests are allowed access into that area of town. The protesters may have a difficult time breaking through the layers of security that ensures that the Aso Rock villa is out of bounds to the public.

Letter of protest from the civil society delegates of the National Conference (April 2014)

National Dialogue: Civil Society Sets Agenda (February 2014)

Nigeria arrests gay 'suspects' under new law banning homosexuality
(January 2014)

Challenges Facing NGOs In Nigeria & Rest Of The World (July 2013)

Politicians task civil society groups, others on FOI implementation Members of the House of Representatives on the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) law (June 2013)

Lagos, Civil Society to Analyse Budget Via Twitter (February 2013)

Presidency, Senate Set for Showdown Over Anti-Terrorism Law (January 2013)

Kogi First Lady - "I Don't Rely on Government to Fund My Project" (December 2012)

When group takes FOI advocacy to community, grassroots (November 2012)

Thousands protest video in volatile Nigerian city (September 2012)

Jonathan meets civil society, pledges enduring Constitution (September 2012)

Effective compliance with Procurement Law, key to corruption fight (August 2012)

NGO wants internal funding for HIV/AIDS (June 2012)

Civil society wants investment in women (May 2012)

UN human rights chief urges bold effort by leaders to end sectarian violence (January 2012)

Nigerian government accused of human rights abuse (January 2012)

Nigeria reclaims ''A'' status at ICC (January 2012)

Nigeria's leader sparks change, but not the kind he hoped (January 2012)

Sustaining NGOs for effective service delivery (January 2012)

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The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL Civic Freedom Monitor Partner in Nigeria, Ayo Obe