By Ismaila Chafe
The Presidency has condemned Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria, regretting that “they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder’’.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made government’s position known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidency was reacting to Amnesty International’s recent claim that the Federal Government is harassing its critics and other militias.
The presidential aide, however, dismissed the allegation, saying the government will continue to fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal, no matter the criticism it faces for doing so.
“Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria is but more of the same.
“Again, they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder.
“Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences.
“This puts them in bad company. Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC.
“IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire.
“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions.
“Instead, there would be silence or mealy-mouthed justification of western governments’ action to check the spread of ‘terrorism’, the statement read in part.
The presidential aide also accused Amnesty International of playing local politics in Nigeria.
He said: “Despite Amnesty’s self-proclaimed mandate to impartially transcend borders, unfortunately in Nigeria they play only domestic politics.
“The international NGO is being used as cover for the organisation’s local leaders to pursue their self-interests. Regrettably, this is not uncommon in Africa.
“There is nothing wrong with an activist stance; there are claims of neutrality, when all facts point to the opposite.”
According to him, Amnesty International has no legal right to exist in Nigeria, saying it must open a formal investigation into the personnel that occupy their Nigerian offices.
“They should reject the outrageously tendentious misinformation they receive and bring some semblance of due diligence to the sources they base their claims on. Currently, we see none.
“The Nigerian government will fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal.
“We will ignore Amnesty’s rantings. Especially when it comes from an organisation that does not hold itself to the same standards it demands of others,’’ he stated.