- ‘Nigeria becoming police state’
By Chuks Okocha
The National Consultative Forum (NCFront) Sunday said that it will lead a rally from its office in Abuja to honour the invitation on Monday sent by the Department of State Service (DSS) to former Speaker of the House of Representatives Ghali Na’abba.
This is coming as the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) condemned the DSS invitation sent to the former speaker of the House of Representatives, describing it as worrisome as the President Muhammadu Buhari was becoming more intolerant of opposition and criticism and gradually dragging the country towards becoming a police state.
In a statement by the Head of Public Affairs Bureau, the NCFront said to its members and sympathisers, “Please be notified that all leaders, members, allies and supporters of the NCFront are hereby enjoined to converge at 10am on Monday, 17th August, 2020 at the NCFront National Headquarters at 40, Inuwa Wada Crescent, off TOS Benson Street, off Okonjo Iwealla way, Utako District, Abuja, FCT for a major rally to solidarise and escort our Leader, Ghali Umar Na’aba to the DSS Headquarters in Abuja on Monday at 12noon.
“All NCFront Organs, Structures and Allies nationwide are also enjoined to comply with this emergency directive of the NCFront leadership as “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
The group also posted a video it suggested might have led to the invitation.
In an explanatory note to the video, the group called attention to the details of the comments.
“Please listen to the sincere assessment of the State of Nigeria presented by NCFront Co-Chairman, Former Speaker, Rt Hon Ghali Umar Na’aba, on behalf of NCFront National Leaders of Conscience on the new mission to Rescue Nigeria and create a New Nigeria that works for all, which has thrown the Nigerian Government into panic and prompted the DSS to invite the former Speaker for Monday, 17th August, 2020,” the group quoted Na’Abba to have said.
“Are we now in a Police State and not in a civil democracy any more?” the group queried.
Also, the Coalition of Northern Groups while condemning the invitation said that it was alarmed by reports that former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’abba, had been invited by the Department of State Services over the interview he granted Channels Television on Thursday regarding the agenda of the National Consultative Front to bring about a new Nigeria that works for all.
The CNG in a statement by Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, its spokesperson, said that it finds it worrying that the current administration was becoming more and more intolerant of opposition and criticism and gradually dragging the country towards becoming a police state.
According to the CNG spokesman, “We find this attempt to harass Na’Abba, a senior citizen and critical stakeholder in the nation’s democratic process, a brutal encroachment on the universal citizens right to freedom of expression which is a fundamental characteristic of any democratic state.”
The CNG said that by its continuous attempt to suppress the existence of the right to freedom of expression which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by the public authority, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was exposing its failure in sportsmanship, statesmanship and political craftsmanship.
The CNG also said that, “It is ridiculous that those who run this government who happened to have benefited the most from the previous administration’s tolerant disposition should be the ones denying others the same right they enjoyed.
“The CNG repudiates this unhealthy, undemocratic trend of government’s exercise of power through security agencies to impose restrictions on citizens’ mobility, or on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views and hold it unacceptable.
“We insist that every Nigerian’s right to freedom of expression which is not only a primary cornerstone of democracy, but also prerequisite for the enjoyment of many of the other rights and freedoms ensured in our constitution and international conventions must be respected”, the spokesman of the CNG stated.
In view of this, the CNG, said, “We therefore find it absolutely unacceptable for a people who in no way bore the brunt of the struggle for the return to democracy to be hellbent now on scuttling it”.
The DSS had, in a statement last week, indicated interest to combat persons who create tension in the country.
The DSS statement released on Friday read: “On 27th July, 2020, the Department of State Services (DSS) alerted the nation about desperate efforts by some notable personalities to use their exalted positions; take advantage of developments in the country and cause a total breakdown of law and order.
“It also revealed that part of the orchestrations was to engage in divisive acts as well as use inciting statements to pit one group against another.
“With latest occurrences in the country, Nigerians may have no reason to doubt the Service’s earlier pronouncement….
“Similarly, the Service also wishes to warn others, who in the guise of political mobilization and supposed pursuit of group interests, engage in hostile and subversive activities, to desist forthwith from advancing their inimical and parochial causes.
“The Service will not stand idly and watch disgruntled and aggrieved elements take laws into their hands and cause mayhem in the polity.
“In line with its mandate of detecting and preventing threats and crimes against the internal security of Nigeria, the Service hereby reiterates its previous warning that it will henceforth not condone unruly conducts of persons and groups that ought to know better.
“In this regard, it will not hesitate to, within the confines of the law, decisively deal with such persons and/or groups, no matter how highly placed, that may wish to test its resolve.
“It will, nonetheless, continue to support participatory democracy in the country and therefore urges all players to abide by the rules of the game.
“On the other hand, the Service implores law abiding citizens to go about their normal businesses without fear. It assures them of protection and pledges to strengthen existing measures designed to achieve this objective.”