Sowore’s Incommunicado Detention: A Threat To Freedom Of Speech And Expression

Following the ‘Unlawful’ apprehension of the Convener of RevolutionNow Protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore at his Lagos home by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) at the early hours of Saturday. I will like to say ‘freedom of Speech and Expression’ which is one of the basic tenets of the rule of law in Nigeria has lost its place as Journalists are still put behind bars for speaking against the ills of government.

Freedom of Speech and expression is a fundamental human right guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international treaties.Yet, this story and more show a worrying pattern of threats, arrests, harassment and intimidation faced by dear Nigerians, journalists and Political-activist doing their plight-fights.

Recall that before his alleged arrest by DSS operatives, Sowore had launched a #RevolutionNow campaign on Social media with series of tweets mobilising Nigerians for a protest march against bad governance in Nigeria, which is to start from Surulere in Lagos, on Monday.

As Security operative claimed Sowore was actually arrested for questioning over a planned nationwide civil unrest being organised by a faceless organisation under the umbrella of “Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria,” as he was believed to be its promoter. Also said Sowore’s arrest was also connected with his recent parley with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, already declared wanted on criminal related offences by the state. The allegation that left many talking was Presidency comment via its outspoken social aide media to Mr President,Lauretta Onochie, in a Stupor Comment that claimed Sowore was arrested With talks about setting himself ablaze and that his apprehension was in order for the security operatives, whose role is to safeguard both lives and properties, to take him into custody to prevent him from harming himself and get him the help he needs.” Apparently, the presidency hit a new low on Saturday when Onochie threw all pretences to the wind to utter such Vituperation.

The law allows Criminalising people who only attempt suicide, aloof that Sowore is an Ex-Presidential Candidate and a Political-activist who Seek Political recognition, Sowore’s detention is blind pursuit for total domination to the Nigerian diversity and negates the Constitution because Omoyele as a Journalist ethics demands him to be a repression against the rights of citizen and that Sowore’s right to protest is constitutionally guaranteed.

RevolutionNow protest is a badge of expression and as so Sowore’s detention should be condemn as Nigeria’s constitution protects the right to freedom of expression and provides that any restriction to this right must be justifiable in a democratic society.

History have found Buhari-led Governments to be an authoritarian, recall that Fela would surely have been delighted at the first peaceful handover of power in Africa’s biggest democracy, but horrified by the return of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s new president.

Singer and Political-activist, Fela, Nigeria’s greatest and most influential musician, was a brave and outrageous political campaigner who spent much of his life furiously attacking his country’s successive military leaders. He was arrested 200 times by different regimes, but only kept in jail for a lengthy period of time by the then Major-General Buhari led government.

Peaceful Protest is a very important tool for shaping public discourse in Nigeria. Instead of Prosecuting, the Buhari-led Government should maintain a balance between regulating against extreme views and hate speech and preserve the right to free speech. Freedom of Speech and expression as a tool for Advancing Liberty in Nigeria, hence it is an inalienable right of individuals to express themselves and be heard without fear of discrimination.

Adejayan Gbenga Gsong is the Columnist of ‘The People’s Shadow’

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