Rommy Mom is Nigeria’s David fighting the Goliath of a dysfunctional government. Mom, president of Lawyers Alert leads the campaign for human rights in Benue despite severe intimidation and threats for his life. Mom has not allowed circumstance to stagnate his vision for vocal and expressive liberation. In an interview with Index, the Index Awards nominee talked about his work in Nigeria and what motivates him to keep battling censorship inn his home country.
In mid-2012, floods led to casualties and loss of homes and livelihoods across Nigeria, with the Benue State one of the worst hit. Though some 500 million Nigerian naira of federal money were allegedly allocated to the people of Benue, the victims did not receive it. This prompted Mom to make use of Freedom of Information legislation to take Benue State Emergency Agency, the authority in charge of disbursing funds, to court.
He was subsequently attacked on a radio show by state governor Gabriel Torwua Suswam, and received phone calls from people close to the governor advising him to leave Benue or risk his life. According to local NGO Media Rights Agenda (MRA), “Benue state has a politically tense environment, so such a statement from a leader is an invitation for an attack on Rommy Mom.” The threats have gone uninvestigated, making it too risky for him to return home.
“Since the threat to my life, I have been forced to carry out my work from outside of Benue. This has not been easy, but it is part of the sacrifices and challenges of making accountability and transparency a currency in governance. The Freedom of Information Act is a critical starting point”, said Mom.
Mom has been nominated in the advocacy category for the Index Freedom of Expression Awards.