Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid: Nigeria Country Report
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No country in the world expected the pandemic and the resulting health crisis. The sudden outbreak of the scourge forced countries, including Nigeria, to take charge and make difficult choices to contain disease spread. Emergency regulations were hurriedly passed across Nigerian states and at the federal level which severely limited certain rights and freedoms. Not only that, a flurry of disease containment and mitigation measures were imposed in the three most-impacted states initially, and later on, across the country. The methods used to enforce the precautionary and mitigating measures triggered a vast array of intended and unintended consequences, with far-reaching implications on the fundamental human rights of citizens and the civic space in general. Particularly significant were the resulting spikes in human rights abuses coupled with the misuse of emergency laws to stifle basic freedoms and crack down on the civic space. The ensuing tensions between the containment measures and specific sets of rights particularly the right to protest, associate and assemble freely, media and internet freedoms, women and minority rights, provoked both academic and civic discourses around the compatibility and proportionality of the imposed restrictions to the legitimate aims of government. This research was conducted under the auspices of the ‘Navigating the Civic Space in Fragile Settings’ project, a component of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme) implemented by the UK-based Institute for Development Studies. Navigating Civic Space in A Time of COVID-19 project aims to review how a range of social, political and policy measures introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19 reshaped and shifted the dynamics of civic space in Nigeria.