Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige, on Monday joined other eminent Nigerians to call for the release of the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (ACC), Omoyele Sowore, saying such arrest portends grave danger for Nigeria’s democracy.
The publisher of Sahara Reporters and convener Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria was arrested by the police from the Department of State Services (DSS) over a planned revolutionary protest scheduled for Monday, August 5, 2019.
This was as the Nigeria Police alleged the activist of a plot to force a regime change in the country.
Iba Adams, while reacting in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, described the arrest as a huge abuse of the human right to freedom, saying that the planned revolutionary protest cannot be said to be treasonable since it was yet to be implemented before he was arrested by the DSS.
Frowning at the arrest, Adams noted that Nigerians were entitled to express their feelings, in as much as the protest was peaceful, and violent- free and also represented the feelings of Nigerians.
“Not everybody can have access to the presidency in Abuja. This is democracy, not militarism, where people are cowed and jailed over issues relating to their welfare,” he said, just as he described Sowore as an activist, who was equally part of the struggle for this democracy and, therefore, entitled to express his feelings and that of Nigerians in a democratic setting.
“Sowore is an activist, and he was part of the struggle for this democracy. Therefore, he is entitled to express his feelings and that of Nigerians in a democratic setting.
“I think the FG must consider his freedom as a panacea for peace. For instance, I wonder how a peaceful protest by armless citizens will now turn to a treasonable felony,” Adams said.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, while further describing the development as unfortunate, recalled that many of the people currently at the corridors of power in the country were part of the protests against former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, adding: “but today the situation has changed.”
He expressed the fear that what they were out to do was to draw the nation back to those years of the military, where people’s rights to freedom and other fundamental human rights were denied as those were alien to the military.
“It is unfortunate that many of the people at the corridors of power today were part of the protests against former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, but today the situation has changed.
“I am afraid they wanted to draw the nation back to those years of the military, where people’s rights to freedom and other fundamental human rights were alien to the military.
“Even in countries that have good institutions and good welfare policies, the citizens still organise a peaceful protest and the government will surely listen to them.
“As an activist and promoter of peace, I have engaged in various rallies and protests. On each occasion, we consulted widely, taking into considerations so many factors, including the rights of Nigerians to embark on protests, noting also that such rights should not translate to a violent or forceful protest,” he stated.
“Nigeria is a democratic republic, therefore, unlawful detention of a people can lead to further crisis and the Federal Government must try as much as it is possible to avoid this by listening to the cries of Nigerians,” the Aare Ona Kakanfo warned.
Speaking further, Adams faulted the rationale behind Sowore’s arrest, saying it was unfortunate that Nigerians usually forget events and memories of the past.
He noted further that Nigeria’s problems emanated from the military’s dictatorship and tendency to gag the press and prevent freedom of speech and expression.
Aare Onakakanfo, however, maintained that the planned protest would have presented to Nigerians the needed opportunity to express their feelings to President Buhari, calling on the Federal Government to free Sowore and formulate policy programmes that have a direct impact on the mass of the people.