The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami has told the world that the federal government will probe the DSS invasion of the Federal High Court Abuja, apparently due to the desecration of the court. This is a welcome development if only the government is serious about it, but you can be rest assured that at the end of the day nothing will come out of this investigation. The body language of those occupying Aso Rock has said it all. These days its best to take everything coming from Buhari’s government with a pinch of salt. This government suffers from credibility disaster.
Talking about desecration of the court, nothing can be more desecration than the blatant disobedience of court orders. This government is the chief culprit, court ordered the release of Sowore but DSS declined to obey the order. Same happened to Dasuki and El Zakzaki (Nigerian Shia leader). But in fairness, previous governments have also been disobeying court orders. Executive rascality and abuse of rule of law, is fast turning this government into a dictatorship.
The drama of Sowore’s arrest on the 6th December, has left no one in doubt as to the true intension of this government. This article does not suggest that Sowore cannot be arrested, but the manner and method is what has caused this controversy, more especially because the DSS had Sowore for more 120 days in their detention. Why release him on the 5th December from DSS detention facility only to embark on a show of shame on the 6th December. It appeared this government is desperate, determined to crush press freedom, and probably sending warning signals to other critics, bloggers, journalists and the opposition to be careful. 3rd term plot seems likely, with this strategy of gagging press freedom.
However, the re-arrest of Sowore backfired, prompting the American Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey to speak out and issue threats against Nigeria. CNN, BBC, etc carried the news and this has further damaged and battered the image of Nigeria overseas. Not sure this government is bothered about our image locally and internationally.
President Buhari has simply succeeded in putting Omoleye Sowore on the international spotlight. He is now our number one prisoner of conscience. But the most intriguing thing is that the VP Prof Yemi Osinbajo a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has not reacted to this issue. His silence could be interpreted to mean complicity or that he does not advise his boss or that he does advise but his boss never listens. Nigerians are watching how this case will play out.
What happened on the 6th December at the Abuja Federal High Court is reminiscence of what happened during Buhari’s military regime from 1983 to 1985, when journalists were forbade from reporting or writing anything considered embarrassing to the government under Decree 4. Two prominent journalists (Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor) were victims of this decree.
Buhari under civilian cloths makes no difference. Once a General always a General. What would have been unusual is if he had not arrested any journalists. Jones Abiri of the Weekly Source media outfit was detained without charge in 2016, and that’s not all, he was denied contact with his family or lawyer for over two years. Premium Times Reporter Samuel Ogundipe had similar fate, as he was arrested, detained and prosecuted for not disclosing the source of his information. The military under his watch raided the offices of Daily Trust newspapers. President Buhari said openly that rule of law must be subjected to the supremacy of the national security.
Under this government the Nigerian Senate debated death penalty for hate speech until the outcry was loud enough before the Nigerian Senate bowed to pressure. That is not all, a bill was presented for the regulation of social media too. The bill forbids statements on social media deemed likely to be against the national security and those which may diminish public confidence. This bill proposed that offenders be punished by a fine, prison sentence of three years or both. This particular bill was first introduced in 2015 but failed to scale through the National Assembly due to uproar by Nigerians. However, Cybercrime law was enacted which criminalized a range of online publications. Let us also remember that the Nigerian authorities charged Omoleye Sowore and other bloggers under the Cybercrime law. The First Lady (Aisha Buhari) even called for tighter social media regulation.
I just want us to reason together.