Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The arrest of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, by security operatives last weekend has continued to generate reaction with the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) condemning his arrest and canvassed for his immediate release.
PANDEF National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, in a statement issued yesterday strongly condemned the arrest of Sowore over his active role in the planned nationwide march to demand for decisive actions from the government on the nation’s security, economic, educational and healthcare challenges.
“PANDEF calls for the immediate release of Sowore and all those Nigerians who may have been arrested in course of peacefully demonstrating their disaffection at the state of affairs of the nation. The federal government ought to note the issues highlighted by the RevolutionNow protestations and take needed actions to address the hardship in the country, rather than cracking down on citizens for exercising their rights to speech, association, and assembly.”
The group equally condemned the Nigerian Police Force for describing the planned protests as treasonable felony and acts of terrorism, wondering “how can protesting against insecurity, suffering and hardship in the country occasioned by misrule, amount to treasonable felony?
“Meanwhile, those who are actually threatening the unity and stability of the country by killing and maiming innocent Nigerians daily, are freely moving around in the country”.
According to PANDEF, the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is increasingly becoming intolerant of criticism and contrary opinions, and undemocratic in its actions.
It further reiterated that “the fundamental human rights of association and expression of views are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution provides among other things that every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his or her interests.
“We would therefore call on the APC-led federal government and agencies of government to demonstrate greater respect for the nation’s constitution and its provisions, particularly those concerning fundamental rights such as right to life, right to dignity of the human person, right to personal liberty, right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association”.