Nigeria: Authorities must ensure the safety and liberty of Okechukwu Nwanguma

Amnesty International Nigeria is gravely concerned over the safety and liberty of Human Rights Defender and Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma who had to go into hiding following threats to his life for revealing the alleged corruption by the Edo State Police Command in investigating oil theft and adulteration of petroleum product in the state. 

On 17 October 2022, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, RULAAC stated the alleged release of suspects arrested for their involvement in oil theft and adulteration of petroleum by security operatives on 7 October 2022, who were later released after allegedly receiving a bribe of 7 million. 

Human rights defenders, whistleblowers, and journalists continue to be threatened, harassed, and detained for speaking up against human rights violations, systemic corruption, or publishing dissenting views. 

Since the issuance of the statement, Okechukwu Nwanguma has received multiple threats and an official invitation from the Edo state Police Command dated 21 October 2022. 

On 13 September 2022, Whistle-blower Richard Oghenehoro Martins, a Senior Grade Level 8 (SGL.08), Higher Executive Officer of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, informed Amnesty International of the multiple threats, including calls from unknown numbers threatening to kill him after risking his life and career to speak up against the corrupt fraudulent hiring of new staff and the issuance of fake letters of appointment at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that led to the disengagement of several affected staff. 

Amnesty International considers Okechukwu Nwanguma and Richard Oghenehoro Martins brave human rights defenders and finds their continued threats unacceptable, we demand that the police provide adequate protection to ensure their safety and liberty and prosecute all individuals including security officials involved in their harassment and intimidation. 

The Nigerian government must ensure an effective and functional protection mechanism is put in place and promptly, thoroughly, impartially, and independently investigate threats and attacks on human rights defenders, journalists, and whistleblowers in full adherence to national and international standards. 

Endangered Voices Report