Skip Navigation
Nigeria

Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression (NG0027)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Nigeria Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Human Rights Commission

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Budget and National Planning, National Assembly, Ministry of Information, Corporate Affairs Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Special Control Unit on Money Laundering, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Financial Reporting Council, Department of State Service, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Army, Civil Defense, National Orientation Agency, Bureau for Public Service Reforms (BPSR). Spaces for Change, Media Rights Agenda, Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Amnesty International, PLAC, CISLAC, CDD, INGO Forum, SERAP, NOPRIN, EiE.

Policy Areas

Civic Space, Defending Journalists and Activists, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Human Rights, Justice, Justice for OG, Policing & Corrections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Nigeria Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Brief description:
This commitment will ensure that citizens and citizen organisations can inform and influence government policies and actions through their freedom to associate, assemble and express themselves freely thereby encouraging constant partnership between the public, private and third sector.

General problem:
Freedom of association, assembly and expression while moderate in Nigeria, citizens are beginning to witness increased attacks on journalists, bloggers, online influencers and human rights defenders who voice concern or report government failings or are against policies, failure to respect citizens’ rights to protests and assemblies and proposals on civil society regulatory frameworks/laws/regulations capable of creating barriers to independent and efficient operation of formal civil society organisations.

Specific OGP issue:
1. Low level of citizens voices in the policy making process.
2. Weak safeguards against undue arrest of citizens and non-state actors.
3. Weak citizens and civil society engagement in all levels of government decision-making.
4. Weak civil society-government relationship.

Rationale for the commitment:
Many of the OGP commitments will benefit from an open civic space for its success, for example opening government systems and processes, curbing corruption and illicit flows cannot be felt government-wide without active citizens, media and nonstate actors that can use data and information to hold governments accountable. Citizens cannot provide information to government on its policies and programmes where the fear of arrest, gagging and restrictions exists on their ability to speak freely and openly. The public cannot voice or discuss public interest issues freely when there are restrictions on their ability to assemble and or protest.

Main objective:
To ensure that citizens and citizen organisations can freely assemble, associate and express their opinions on government policies and programmes.

Anticipated impact:
Improved citizens participation and enabling the environment for advocacy, including working collectively towards open and responsive government, guaranteed protection of basic civil liberties such freedom of association, assembly and expression.

See action plan for milestone activities

IRM Midterm Status Summary

13. Improve civil society’s operational space

Main Objective

“To ensure that citizens and citizen organisations can freely assemble, associate and express their opinions on government policies and programmes.”

Milestones

  1. Work with regulators such as CAC, FIRS and SCUML to register CSOs, especially those working on governance and rights issues, within a set time limit on clear grounds that are legitimate.
  2. Advocate for adequate safeguards against undue supervision of CSOs and the media such as random inspections and searches, ad-hoc demands for information, burdensome or invasive reporting requirements, etc.
  3. Establish strategy for the development of an effective CSO-Government relationship through the inclusion and timely release of a funding line in the national budget
  4. Work with FIRS to ensure that tax treatment and eligibility requirements of CSOs are clear in law and regulation to promote consistent and impartial tax treatment
  5. Work with the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to develop a guide on peaceful protests and assembly that is in line with international and ACPHR legal standards.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Nigeria’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/nigeria-action-plan-2019-2021/

 

Commitment Analysis

This commitment seeks to aid the realization of the right to free assembly, association, and expression. It includes five milestones to help CSOs register, include a national budget funding line for CSOs, and clarify tax treatment of CSOs. The commitment also plans to advocate for safeguards to protect CSOs against undue supervision, as well as develop a guide on peaceful protests in partnership with the police and security forces. This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation, as it aims to improve civil society’s operating environment.

If implemented as written, this commitment could have moderate potential impact on widening Nigeria’s civic space, which Civicus Monitor currently qualifies as “obstructed.” [152] The milestones on registration and funding could bring notable improvements to the status quo. The planned improvements in the CSO registration process could help bridge the CSO registration gap and reduce the administrative burden for registering an organization. The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD) report bureaucratic challenges to CSO registration, including a time-consuming process and restrictions on organizational constitutions and names. [153] According to the 2018 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index, CSOs perceived to be critical of the government or perceived to pose security risks face registration difficulties. CSOs that fail to register are unable to access donor funds, [154] meaning that rectifying the registration process could also benefit CSO financing. Likewise, the intended clarification of CSO tax treatment could improve CSOs’ operations. According to the Nigeria Network of NGOs, Nigeria’s tax code is applied inconsistently to CSOs, with substantial discrepancies among states, [155] contributing to 53% of CSOs reporting a lack of comprehension of the taxation system and 67% of CSOs not paying taxes. [156] Nigeria does not offer tax deductions for donations to CSOs, [157] exacerbating limitations in local funding. [158]

The planned guidance on peaceful protest and use of minimal force could help facilitate dialogue on the realization of the right to assembly and clarify the police’s expected conduct. There is a need for reform in this sector given government obstruction of demonstrations against authorities. [159] However, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) expects limited impact given that the modus operandi of Nigerian Police and security agencies has remained relatively unaltered despite numerous previous training, legislative changes, and guidance documents. [160]

Additionally, the commitment does not directly address critical factors threatening freedom of assembly and expression, such as the Internet Falsehoods Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill and the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill. [161]

To ensure that this commitment can deliver tangible results for improving CSOs’ registration process, it will be important for the Human Right Commission to broker space for CSOs and the other relevant agencies to come to a mutual understanding on what a reasonable approach is to CSO registration and what specific changes need to be made by whom.

  • The IRM recommends focusing on ensuring buy-in from the responsible public institutions in implementing safeguards for protection of civic space and a favorable operating environment for CSOs. These include changes to the registration of CSOs, tax reform, and police reform.
  • In addition, the IRM recommends consideration of Nigerian civil society groups’ calls to withdraw the Internet Falsehoods Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill and the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill, as these bills pose threats to online civic space and freedom of expression.
  • To improve police accountability, NOPRIN recommends ensuring legitimate CSO representation in the Police Trust Fund, which supports police training, equipment purchases, and other police personnel matters.
[153] Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi (Nigeria Network of NGOs), interview with IRM, 6 July 2020; Uchenna Arisukwu (The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development), interview with IRM, 25 June 2020.
[154] “2018 Civil Society Organization. Sustainability Index. For sub-Saharan Africa. 10th edition – November 2019”, USAID, ICNL, FHI 360, in https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/resource-csosi-2018-africa-report.pdf, p.170.
[155] Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi (Nigeria Network of NGOs), interview with IRM, 6 July 2020.
[156] Enabling Environment National Assessment (EENA), Country Report: Nigeria, CIVICUS, April 2015, in https://www.civicus.org/images/EENA_Nigeria.pdf. P.44..
[157] Oluseyi Babatunde Oyebisi (Nigeria Network of NGOs), interview with IRM, 6 July 2020.
[158] “2018 Civil Society Organization. Sustainability Index. For sub-Saharan Africa. 10th edition – November 2019,” USAID, ICNL, FHI 360, in https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/resource-csosi-2018-africa-report.pdf, p.172.
[159] “Laws on The Right of Peaceful Assembly. Nigeria,” Right of Assembly, in https://www.rightofassembly.info/country/nigeria
[160] Ikule Emmanuel (The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria), interview with IRM, 9 July 2020.
[161] “Nigeria,” International Center for Not-For-Profit Law Civic Freedom Monitor, 5 April 2020, https://www.icnl.org/resources/civic-freedom-monitor/nigeria; Gabriel Ewepu, “CSO calls for withdrawal of bills threatening citizens’ rights to digital freedom, expression,” Vanguard, 28 June 2020, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/06/cso-calls-for-withdrawal-of-bills-threatening-citizens-rights-to-digital-freedom-expression/; “Nigeria”, ICNL, in https://www.icnl.org/resources/civic-freedom-monitor/nigeria

Commitments

  1. Participatory Budgeting

    NG0015, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  2. Implement Open Contracting and the Open Contracting Data Standard

    NG0016, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparent Tax Revenue Reporting

    NG0017, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  4. Open Contracting and Licensing in Extractives

    NG0018, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Implement EITI Standard

    NG0019, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish Beneficial Ownership Registry

    NG0020, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Strengthen Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0021, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  8. Implement National Anti-Corruption Strategy

    NG0022, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  9. Improve Compliance with Freedom of Information Act with Focus on Records Management

    NG0023, 2019, Access to Information

  10. Improved Compliance with Mandatory Publication Provisions Requirement (FOIA)

    NG0024, 2019, Access to Information

  11. Implement Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0025, 2019, Dispute Resolution & Legal Assistance

  12. Aggregate Citizens' Feedback on Programs

    NG0026, 2019, E-Government

  13. Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Expression

    NG0027, 2019, Civic Space

  14. Enhance Participation of the Vulnerable

    NG0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  15. Implement New Computer Program in 6 Government Ministries to Improve Service Delivery

    NG0029, 2019, Capacity Building

  16. Legal Instrument to Strengthen SERVICOM

    NG0030, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Citizen Participation in Budget Cycle

    NG0001, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Open Contracting

    NG0002, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Extractive Sector Transparency

    NG0003, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Tax Reporting Standards

    NG0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  21. World Bank Doing Business Index

    NG0005, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  22. Beneficial Ownership Register

    NG0006, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  23. Anti-Corruption Informationi Sharing

    NG0007, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  24. Asset Recovery Legislation

    NG0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  25. Anti-Corruption Activity Coordination

    NG0009, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  26. FOIA Compliance for Annual Reporting

    NG0010, 2017, Access to Information

  27. FOIA Compliance for Disclosure

    NG0011, 2017, Access to Information

  28. Permanent Dialogue Mechanism

    NG0012, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  29. Joint Governmnet-Civil Society Legislation Review

    NG0013, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  30. Technology-Based Citizens' Feedback

    NG0014, 2017, E-Government

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!