The civil rights advocacy group- Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria
(HURIWA) has condemned as unconstitutional and illegal, the arrest of an opposition politician and the Founder, African Action Congress, Mr. Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Services (DSS)
This is just as the Rights group has called for his immediate freedom, saying that his arrest is a culmination of the systematic clampdown and organised brutish attacks targeting persons and groups with divergent opinion from the status quo.
HURIWA restated her alarm that the current administration has embarked on the shrinking and deliberate stifling of civic spaces, and 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, 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 the lives and freedoms of the practitioners have now become.
“This can only be the case if the 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 unfortunately, 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?” the group questioned.
HURIWA described the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the leading human rights activist in Lagos, pro-democracy campaigner, who was arrested Saturday morning at his home as clandestine and primitive and 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 of 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 [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 legal representation and a right to the dignity of his personhood as recognised by international and local human rights laws.