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The Government of Niger Republic has said that some leaders of the Civil Society Organisations were arrested because they broke the law by protesting in the night.

Nigerien Ambassador to Nigeria, Mandour Maman Hadj Dadda, said this last Thursday in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of top CSOs in Nigeria at the Niger Embassy in furtherance of the advocacy for the release of the Civil Society activists arrested in Niger.

Daily Trust reports that 16 leaders of CSOs in Nigeria expressed concerned over President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic crack down, leading to harassment and detention of activists leaders in the country for the past three years.

But Ambassador Dadda said while he sympathized with the Nigerian CSOs over the ordeal of their Nigerien counterpart, he said that the problem began when the CSOs requested to protest at night and were refused because it is against the law to protest at night.

“The reason the civil society actors were arrested was because they went ahead with the protest. Civil society actors were not above the law and as such they had to be arrested,” he said.

He however promised to deliver the Nigerian CSOs letter to President Issoufou and thanked them for their concern for the activists and for Niger as a whole.

Also speaking, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, who led the delegation said that civil society activists in Niger have come under siege from state actors, in the past three years, in a crackdown that led to a series of convictions, arrests and detentions of civil society leaders in Niger.

According to him, on the 25th March 2018, security agents raided offices of major civil society organisations in Niger, attacked and arrested 23 of their leaders, for allegedly disturbing the peace of the country.

Rafsanjani, who handed over the letter signed by prominent CSOs in Nigeria to the Nigerien ambassador, urged his intervention in securing the release of the civil society actors, especially if they have not been found guilty of terrorism, flaunting Niger’s laws or any criminal activity.

He also drew attention to the decline of human rights in the country.

It will be recalled that a statement jointly signed by the Nigerian CSOs called for the immediate release of the arrested Nigerien activists.

The 23 leaders arrested are Moussa Tchangari, Me Lirwana Abdourahamane, Nouhou Mahamadou Arzika, Ali Idrissa, Moctar Oumarou, Halarou Abdou, Ousseini Maiga, Moumoudou Seyni, Moustapha Ibrahim, Abdoul Aziz Issaka and Ibrahim Malam Nameiwa.

Others are Bachir Kadri, Abdoul Kader Hamza, Alassane Souleymane, Idrissa Adamou, Aminou Tayabou, Abdoulaye Mamadou Koné, Issoufou Maiwanzam, Hamaye Abdou, Chapiou Mahamadou, Mohamed Aminou Nassirou Hassane, Soumaila Hassane and Abdouljamal Alassane.

Abbas JIMOH (Daily Trust)

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