Chucks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has condemned the arrest of Salisu Tanko-Yakasai, a former Special Adviser on Media to Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) shortly after criticising President Muhammadu Buhari on Twitter.
Falana, who is the Interim Chairman, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), said this in a statement yesterday titled, ‘Asking Buhari to Resign is Not An Offence’.
The senior advocate said retired military officers and political party leaders, including chieftains of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have repeatedly asked Buhari to call it quits due to the worsening insecurity in the country, adding that there is no justification for the arrest and detention of Yakassai.
He noted that in the National Assembly, there had been calls by legislators for Buhari’s resignation or removal on the grounds that criminal gangs have taken over the monopoly of violence in the country.
Falana said, since such concerned citizens were never arrested, the harassment of Yakassai is high-handed, discriminatory, and illegal.
The statement read in part, “It is on record that the APC and its leaders including Buhari; National Leader, Bola Tinubu; Malam Nasir El-Rufai and Alhaji Lai Mohammed repeatedly called for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s resignation between 2013 and 2014 yet they were never subjected to any form of intimidation for exercising their freedom of expression at the material time.
“Since the call for President Buhari’s resignation is likely to continue to be made by other concerned individuals and groups over the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neo-colonial state it is pertinent to draw the attention of the State Security Service to the case of Arthur Nwankwo v the State 1985 6 NCLR 228 where the Court of Appeal charged the Nigerian people to engage in relentless criticism of democratically elected governments”.
“In particular, Olajide Olatawura JCA (as he then was of blessed memory) had this to say: The decision of the founding fathers of the present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticise should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided by the constitution must be resisted.”
The ASCAB chairman called for the immediate and unconditional release of Yakassai from illegal custody.
Meanwhile, the PDP has also asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Yakasai, son of elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, from security custody.
The party in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan described the reported arrest of Salihu by security operatives as well as his alleged detention in a secret facility, just after his “criticism against the Buhari administration’s failures in the fight against banditry in our country”, as completely unacceptable.
“Salihu Yakasai’s ordeal is a sad reminder of the sudden disappearance of another known critic of the Buhari administration, Abubakar Idris, popularly known as Abu Hanifa Dadiyata, since August 2019.
“The PDP reminds agents of the APC-led administration that Nigeria is a democratic nation and that the rights of citizens, including their freedom of expression, within the ambit of the law, are firmly guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and as such, must be respected.
“Our party, therefore, rejects the arrest of Salihu Yakasai, for joining other patriotic Nigerians in demanding a Presidential commitment of decisive action to rescue the abducted Zamfara schoolgirls as well as to end all acts of terrorism in our country,” the opposition party stated.
The PDP also condemned the decision of the Governor of Kano State, Ganduje, in summarily relieving Yakasai of his appointment as his Special Adviser on media, on the ground that his patriotic demand for a decisive action to end terrorism, was contrary to the stand of the APC government.