Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has welcomed the announcement by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari ordering the release of #RevolutionNow protest convener, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and the immediate-past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, from custody.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) today reportedly directed the Department of State Services to release Col. Dasuki and Mr. Sowore from custody.
In a statement by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This is a positive step by the Nigerian government. We hope that this signals a change in direction in Nigeria towards full respect for the rule of law, tolerance and greater openness by the government that would allow citizens to effectively enjoy their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The statement read in part: “SERAP has consistently called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sowore, Olawale Bakare and other prisoners of conscience. The President Buhari government should now immediately withdraw all charges against Mr Sowore and Olaware Bakare and all others detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression. They should never have been charged in the first place.
“We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Agba Jalingo and all those still detained on bogus charges, having spoken out in favour of greater democracy, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
“The government cannot continue to pick and choose which court orders to obey. All court orders must be immediately and fully obeyed. It should never be right for the government to selectively obey court orders.
“The government should have immediately obeyed court orders releasing Sowore, Dazuki and others on bail.
“The President Buhari government must cease the restrictions on the civic space, respect human rights, and immediately obey all outstanding court orders including at least four judgments obtained by SERAP. The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts involved.
“The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, while the third judgment, by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, ordered the immediate release of details of payments of billions of naira to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.
“The fourth judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris (as he then was), ordered President Buhari to prosecute senior lawmakers suspected of padding and stealing N481 billion from the 2016 budget. The court also ordered President Buhari to direct the publication of the report of investigations by security and anti-corruption bodies into the alleged padding of the 2016 budget.”
Atiku Laments Political Repression Across The Country
Meanwhile, former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned what he called a climate of political repression across the country by the Federal and State Governments and other powerful individuals who use security agencies to arbitrarily detain their critics without formal arraignments before the courts.
Reacting to the incidents of detention without trial and the disappearance of social media activists who are critical of Governors, the former Vice President said that this development is disturbing and it contradicts the basic standards of true democratic practices around the world.
According to Atiku, it is wrong to detain critics without trial in violation of their fundamental human rights which are duly protected by the constitution of Nigeria.
The former Vice President lamented that the current level of political intolerance and abuse of power against critics is unhealthy for our democracy and our international image.
“Power is public trust and leaders should not therefore use their own positions to repress and oppress those who disagree with them or their policies”, he further explained.
The Waziri of Adamawa noted that “leaders took an oath of office to protect the welfare, happiness and rights of the citizens”, adding that “it is wrong to use their powers to oppress the very citizens that elected them.”
Atiku, who was the PDP presidential candidate in the February 2019 elections, noted that “feedback is essential to democratic governance; without being criticised you won’t be able to assess the impact of your policies on the people.”
He therefore appealed to Federal and State Governments across the country to set in motion the process of releasing persons currently being held in detention for holding contrary viewpoints in order to reduce the tension in the country.