Rafsanjani stated this in a chat with Vanguard, where he said no intimidation can cow them out of Nigeria, rather would continue to do what will protect the fundamental human rights and promote good governance in the country.
According to him the continued intimidation, harassment of the Amnesty International and other civil society organisations in Nigeria is not acceptable, because even the government itself if it is serious they should know that Amnesty International, AI, is an organization and not politicians, “not out there to fight anybody but they are just reminding people the need to promote the human right of everybody.”
He further stated that AI Nigerian is not engaging in any violence or sponsoring anything that is illegal but what AI Nigeria is doing has been basically “monitoring and documenting human right abuses and asking for accountability in human rights issues.”
He also stated that the protest has shutdown activities at its Abuja office for over one week, which they have written to inform the police over harassment and intimidation by the protesters who have barricaded the office, and also to provide security.
He said: “Asking Amnesty International Nigeria to leave Nigeria is a mockery and a joke because the staff there are all Nigerians and I am the Chairman in Amnesty International Nigeria. The Country Director is a Nigerian. So there is no foreigner working in Amnesty International working in Nigeria.
If anyone is telling us to leave Nigeria he should be the one to leave because we have not done anything to violate the legal provision in the country and we have not done anything to incite, but all we are saying is that government must respect, comply with the rule of law, be able to protect every Nigerian right.
Asking Amnesty International to leave is a joke, we are not going anywhere because we are Nigerians and nobody can take us out of Nigeria. Those who want to leave so they would continue to perpetrate their human rights abuses and evil they will be the ones to leave and we are not going anywhere.
The brain behind this harassment are people who are in uniform and not in uniform that continue to undermine basic fundamental human rights of Nigerians, these are people who do not want conflict, violence and crisis do not stop in Nigeria to justify stealing more money that is why they are angry with Amnesty International, CSOs, because is a big market for them and we are saying this cannot continue.”
According to him the protesters are being used by some people in government against the legitimate work AI is doing to protect and promote human rights in the country, because they are not happy with their reports exposing them and their deeds.
Some people in government are not happy that we are documenting and calling government to always respect the rule of law, fundamental rights of Nigerians. So some people in government who are used to brutally violate people’s rights are not comfortable, happy because they want to continue to brutalise Nigerians, refuse to comply with rule of law.
Amnesty International Nigeria, is saying Nigeria cannot continue to be a country where there is no rule of law, abuses of rights are going on without any redress. That is all we are doing and saying.
Some people in government who benefit from the abuses of rights they are not happy with us but want us to stop helping the ordinary people whose rights are abused”, he said.
He further stated that “The government should see us as partners in progress and not as enemies and we are not enemies of government. We are interested in seeing that government works for everybody.”
He also warned that the international community is keenly watching the gross violations of human rights in Nigeria as its credibility and image are on sharp decline.
My message to the government is that the whole world is watching, and its credibility is on the decline rapidly because of this harassment of CSOs and anti-corruption groups.
The international community are not happy with the way and manner that some government organizations are using their positions to sustain and continue to shrinking civil society space, and CSOs are there to contribute immensely for the development of Nigeria and if you block the space from contributing to enthrone democracy, human rights and good governance you are collectively undermining the collective interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Therefore, the Nigerian government should realize that this action they are taking and threatening CSOs including Amnesty international is not going to go well with unification”, he stated.