May 28, 2024
ACTION GROUP ON FREE CIVIC SPACE CONDEMNS THE SACKING OF ALL NGOs OPERATING IN ZAMFARA STATE
Action Group on Free Civic Space concerned about dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel
– By Alison Godswill

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ACTION GROUP ON FREE CIVIC SPACE CONDEMNS THE SACKING OF ALL NGOs OPERATING IN ZAMFARA STATE

The Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS) unequivocally condemns the expulsion of all non- governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Zamfara State as announced via a public statement signed by
the Hon. Commissioner Ministry of Security and Home Affairs, Zamfara State, DIG rtd Mamman Ibrahim
Tsafe, on 14th February 2023. The statement stated that the state government has observed that there is a massive influx of “illegal NGOs”
into the state “carrying out illegal activities that contravene the existing laws of government”, some NGOs
have failed to register, while “some of them have also been found to be engaging in activities fuelling
insecurity in the state and its neighborhood.” The statement went further to order “all NGOs in the state to pack
their belongings and leave the state immediately.” and directed that security agencies clamp down on all
NGOs not duly registered in the state. The allegation of NGO illegal activities fuelling insecurity in the state to justify the sacking of all NGOs in the
state is both unfounded, unjustifiable and plays right into the playbook of civil society repression that has
characterized the current political dispensation. It should be noted that there are legitimate NGOs that have
contributed to the social and economic growth of Zamfara State. An expanded interpretation of this
announcement will include religious bodies operating in the state. The laws of Nigeria have made adequate
provisions for the prosecution of individuals, organizations, or groups engaged in illegal and criminal activities. The government of Zamfara should act in accordance with the provisions of the law and not use the back door
to clamp down on civil society organizations (CSOs). We declare that this action by the government of
Zamfara State is a direct attack on the civic space and it is condemned by the AGFCS. We fear that security
operatives may seize the opportunity to clamp down on CSOs advocating for good governance, on the ground
that they are engaging in “illegal activities.” The ban is a gross violation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as
amended) which guarantees – under Section 40 – every citizen of Nigeria the fundamental right to assemble
freely and associate with other persons, in particular, form or belong to any political party, trade union or any
other association for the protection of their interest. Also, section 1 (3) of the Constitution, declares that “If
any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that
other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
In addition, the compulsory registration of NGOs in Zamfara State runs afoul of the provisions of Section 40
of the Constitution. It is against our laws that NGOs must be registered before commencing operations in the
state. Therefore, the announcement by the Zamfara state government ordering all “NGOs to pack their load and
leave the state immediately” and directing security operatives “to investigate and prosecute any NGO operating
in the state without due clearance from designated authorities” is illegal and unconstitutional. We, therefore, demand a total reversal of the announcement ordering all “NGOs to pack their load and leave
the state immediately.” Where there is the culpability of any non-governmental organization, the AGFCS
encourages that those isolated incidents are properly investigated and any organization indicted brought to
book. SIGNED:

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