A rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has advised the Federal Government to drop its plan to impose 10 per cent tax on every phone call made, text message sent and data used by Nigerians.
Rather than impose the tax on Nigerians, the group advised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federation Government to immediately roll out social protection programmes to alleviate the effect of harsh economy on the masses.
It stressed that the economic recession into which the nation had sunk had further compounded the plight of the underprivileged members of the society, who had already been victims of long years of corruption, abuse of power and underdevelopment in the country.
SERAP said this on Sunday in an open letter to the Federal Government by its Senior Staff counsel, Timothy Adewale.
It called on the government to note that the economic crisis in the country had become a threat to human rights.
It reminded the government of its obligation to create conditions in which Nigerians and other people living in the country could effectively exercise the full range of their human rights, including economic and social rights.
SERAP advised Buhari to propose a legislation to end allocation of security votes to both the federal and state governments, which the group argued had always been embezzled or diverted.
The letter read partly, “SERAP calls on President Buhari to immediately drop the proposed 10 per cent tax on phone calls, text messages, data and more, as this would disproportionately affect the socially and economically-vulnerable and push them deeper into poverty and deprivation.
“Increased poverty and the hunger that it brings will threaten the right to life and health of many socially and economically-vulnerable, including women and children. These groups of people are bearing the brunt and feeling the impacts of the economic crisis on their standards of living, their jobs and their homes.
“Your government has a binding obligation to ensure that all its policies to address the economic crisis are consistent with standards of human rights law. At the same time, the role of your government is to act as the guarantor of human rights of millions of impoverished Nigerians, including economic and social rights. Economic recession cannot be used as excuse for failing to fulfil these rights.
“We urge President Buhari to immediately provide economic stimulus packages that are focused on limiting the worst human consequences of the crisis, and give priority attention to the most vulnerable and marginalised in the distribution of resources.”
The group also urged Buhari to put pressure on the National Assembly to trim down its budget spending, which it noted was N115bn in 2016.