Coalition hits Zamfara govt over ban of NGOs

The umbrella body of the Non-Governmental Organisations in Zamfara State, the Zamfara Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations, has berated the state government over its order to ban the NGOs working in the state.

The coalition said it condemned the ban which, according to it, the government said was owing to the high influx of NGOs carrying out illegal activities that contravened the existing laws of government in the state.

The coalition stated this in a statement released on Wednesday.

The statement partly read, “With reference to the special public announcement dated 14th February, 2023 by the Zamfara State Ministry of Security and Home Affairs, the Zamfara Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (ZASCONS) and other civil society organisations in Nigeria and worldwide has received with shock the order by the government to expel NGOs working in the state due to what is termed ‘the high influx of NGOs into the state carrying out illegal activities that contravened the existing laws of government’.

“It is in view of the above that the Coalition of NGOs, an umbrella body of NGOs in Zamfara State, arising from an emergency meeting of its members has condemned the said order as we consider it very punitive, diversionary and harmful to cordial working relationship existing between the NGOs and the state govt.”

The group further stated that the order had threatened “well-meaning and friendly civil society organisations, development partners and donors,” adding that it also “seeks to threaten the civic space and tarnish the conducive atmosphere between the NGOs and government of Zamfara State and Nigeria.”

The coalition calls on the Zamfara State government to withdraw the order, stressing that “it has portrayed the state in bad light in the eyes of the international community.”

It added, “We call the state government through the Ministry of Security and Home Affairs to identify and publish the name(s) of those NGOs the government suspects of doing illegal activities in the state;

“To check with all the relevant MDAs tasked with the responsibility of registering NGOs in order to fish out those that have not registered or signed an MOU with the state government;

“To refrain from blanket and damaging statements affecting all NGOs as this can discredit genuine NGOs and their services to the people of the state.”

The coalition further said that it was ready to “help the government to fish out any illegal NGO that does not comply or is working against the interest of the people of the state.”

“As a responsible organisation, the coalition would like to restate our total support to any security arrangement aimed at taming the wave of insecurity bedevilling the state and urge all NGOs to comply with security arrangements in place or any other relevant law of the state.

“Furthermore, we urge all NGOs and other partners to remain calm as we engage the government on the issue,” it added.