CSOs Jointly Condemn Sowore’s Arrest by DSS over Revolution Now RallyCSOs Jointly Condemn Sowore’s Arrest by DSS over Revolution Now Rally
The undersigned human rights and civil society organizations in Nigeria are deeply concerned about Nigeria’s steady drift to an authoritarian state under President Buhari.
We are worried that with its persistent and increasingly intolerant posture and undemocratic actions, Buhari’s government turns Nigeria into an authoritarian state
Buhari who came into office through democratic elections in 2015 had stated during campaigns that although he was once a military ruler, he had transformed to a democrat, described himself as ‘a converted democrat’ and promised to subject himself and his conduct in government, if elected, under democratic norms and practices.
However, the style and approach of President Buhari’s government since 2015 and especially after his highly contested re-election in the 2019; his government’s increasing intolerance for criticism and opposition; and his blatant disregard for the rule of law- all clearly paint a picture of a man still retaining his military mind-set and ruthless predilection.
The arrest of Omoyele Sowore in the wee hours of Saturday, August 3, 2019 is unjustifiable. Sowore has not committed any known offence except that he advocates for good governance. His arrest, coming just few hours after a rented crowd of pro-government protesters besieged the Abuja offices of the Amnesty International- for the second time under this government, in an attempt to intimidate the human rights advocacy organisation for its critical and factual reports exposing human rights atrocities and demanding accountability, it is yet another indication that under President Buhari, democracy is in retreat in Nigeria and the country is increasingly drifting towards full blown authoritarianism.
Under Buhari, human rights and basic freedoms have been recklessly and unabashedly curtailed on a scale only comparable to and reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship during which Buhari’s despicable role stands out.
Under Buhari’s government, freedoms of assembly and expression have been brutally repressed and suppressed, only compounding the already precarious state of insecurity in Nigeria which has turned life in Nigeria ‘nasty, short and brutish’. The blood of helpless and defenceless Nigerians is daily spilled by ruthless armed bandits and repressive state security agents. Yet, the same government has proved woefully incompetent and incapable of providing leadership in the face of steadily degenerating state of security and dilapidated economy.
The rights of Nigerians to peaceful protest are fundamental and guaranteed by the Constitution and other regional and international human rights legislation and treaties which Nigeria subscribes to.
To Protest is not a Crime
In 2003, General Mohammadu Buhari led other ANPP party members in a protest rally over the rigged 2003 election. The police disrupted the rally. Buhari and ANPP challenged the disruption of the rally in court and the court declared the action of the police illegal and unconstitutional. This was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Again on November 20, 2014, General Buhari, as presidential candidate of APC, and his party men also staged a protest in Abuja against increasing insecurity and killings in the country under President Jonathan. Today, the situation is more tragic that it was when Buhari led that protest.
Freedom of expression as ventilated through a peaceful protest is a constitutional right. We can’t continue to behave like we are in the Stone Age.
Buhari government has already done so much damage to the international image of Nigeria. The arrest of Sowore will do further damage to that battered image.
It is a shame that the same government whose agents hire protesters to picket the offices of Amnesty international for being anti-government will unleash security agents against critics and genuine peaceful protesters. The rented protesters were at Amnesty International’s offices again today and would be going there for the next five days having been paid to occupy the office every day for seven days.
We call for the immediate release of Sowore and an end to the repression of basic freedoms guaranteed Nigerians by the Constitution.
1. Okechukwu Nwanguma, for Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
2. Augusta Yaakugh, for Rule of Law Development Foundation
3. Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, for Centre for Impact Advocacy
4. Ariyo-Dare Atoye, for Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution
5. Comrade Deji Adeyanju, for Concerned Nigerian Groups
6. Comrade Gbenga Soloki, for Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence
7. Uzoma Aneto, for Nde Oduko Foundation
8. Amb. Obuesi Phillips, for Community Agenda for Peace (Centre for Public Peace and Conflict Prevention)
9. Gloria Nweze, for Centre for Human Rights, Social Justice and Anti-Torture Initiative
10. Comrade Adewale Ojo, for Committee for the Defence of Human Rights
11. Adebayo Raphael, for Free Nigeria Movement
12. Deji Ajare for Sterling Centre for Law and Development
13. Dr. Walter Duru, for Media Imitative Against Injustice, Violence and Corruption
14. Adamu Abdullazeez Bako, for Centre for Citizens’ Right
HURIWA CONDEMNS CLAMPDOWN AND ARREST OF SOWORE; DEMANDS HIS IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The foremost civil Rights advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA ( HURIWA) has condemned as unconstitutional and illegal the ARREST of the opposition politician and the publisher of the famous online platform- Saharareporters.com Mr. Omoyele SOWORE by the Department of State Services (DSS) just as the Rights group has called for his immediate freedom.
The Rights group said the ARREST of SOWORE is a culmination of the systematic CLAMPDOWN and organised brutish attacks targeting persons and groups with divergent opinion from the status quo just as HURIWA restated her alarm that the current administration has embarked on the SHRINKING and deliberate stiffling of the CIVIC SPACES. HURIWA accused the DSS of illegally bugging telephones of prominent civil rights leaders including leaders of HURIWA. .
The group which submitted that the fundamentals of the practice of constitutional democracy are animated by the protection and promotion of the basic constitutional freedoms of speech and the opening of the civic spaces, has raised alarm that since coming to office, President Muhammadu Buhari has adopted anti-democratic postures that constitute grave threats to constitutional democracy.
According to HURIWA : “it is an undeniable fact that civic space is the bedrock and the fundamental of any open and democratic government which is guaranteed under the chapter four of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended); all other global human rights conventions and laws do also support the fundamental freedoms as espoused in chapter 4 of the constitution. May we remind president Buhari that his attacks against those fundamental freedoms constitute grave threats to democracy because when civic space is open, citizenry and civic society platforms are then able to organize, participate and communicate without hindrance or impediments that the open threats to lives and freedoms of the practitioners have now become. This can only be the case if government is compelled to discharge her obligations to the citizenry. The freedoms of association; peaceful assembly and expression are no doubt the strategic elements of an open civic space. These critical elements are systematically put under attacks by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and un fortunately the free World is watching as constitutional democracy is about to collapse in Nigeria”.
HURIWA stated that the report that the presidential candidate African Action Congress (AAC) Omoyele Sowore was arrested by Operatives of the Department of State Services to thwart the holding of nationwide protests against misgovernance and unprecedented insecurity shows that the current administration lacks the frame of mind to tolerate dissenting voices. “Does anyone in this government benefit from these killings by all kinds of armed freelance killers and bandits so much so that the government is afraid of street protests to condemn these killings?”
HURIWA described the arrest of Omoyele Sowore Soworethe leading human rights activist in Lagos, pro-democracy campaigner, founder of online news agency Sahara Reporters who was arrested Saturday morning at his home as clandestine and primitive has also demanded his immediate release and public apology by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Rights group: “Why invade the residence of a citizen in the wee hours of the morning like thieves or kidnappers to whisk away a citizen? This is reminiscent of the dictatorial style if the diabolical military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha which is totally not in consonance with the principle and practice of constitutional democracy”.
HURIWA emphatically accused the DSs of seeking to destroy free speech because the act was made to frustrate the plan to stage series of planned civil protests just as the Rights group said this may be as a result of his (OMOWOLE SOWORE’S) plans to mobilise people in Lagos and many parts of the country for a revolution protest tagged ‘ Days of Rage’ to demand a better Nigeria.
HURIWA observed too that since Sowore tweeted: ” DSS invades Sowore’s” and was subsequently not allowed to speak to his lawyer shows that the DSS is yet to come to terms with the fact that Nigeria has for 20 years practiced constitutional democracy with inbuilt provisions in chapter 4 for the protection of the fundamental freedoms of the citizenry including the right to a legal representation and a right to the dignity of his personhood as recognised by international and local human rights laws.