-Writes U.S over court violations
A coalition of over 200 civil society organisations on Monday issued a 14-day ultimatum within which President Muhammadu Buhari should show commitment to the rule of law or face mass action and civil disobedience.
They are demanding, among others, the release the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore and others being held without justification.
According to them, mass action was inevitable if the government failed to accede to their demands.
The CSOs issued the ultimatum in Abuja during a press conference on the state of the nation entitled, “Nigeria’s troubling state of affairs.”
The statement reads, “Tomorrow, December 10, the world will celebrate Human Rights Day. It will also be marked in Nigeria as we review the crackdown on the freedom of the press; proposed bills to curb dissent and a general environment of shrinking civic space of which the recent actions of our security agencies are just an example.
“We represent a cross-section of Nigerian civil society actors that have played various roles in Nigeria’s journey to civil rule.
“Two key issues are of concern to us, namely: Attack on Our Judiciary and Attack on Free Speech and Pattern of Silencing Dissent
“In closing, we demand the following:
President Muhammadu Buhari to show accountability as President and Commander-in-Chief and address the nation on his commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
“The release of all illegally detained persons by the DSS as revealed by Amnesty, Premium Times & Punch Newspapers in recent months.
“That the government obey all outstanding court orders.
“An investigation of the officers who violated protocol and the circumstances leading to Omoyele Sowore’s 2nd arrest.
“The unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore per his bail terms.
“If these five demands are not honoured within 14 days – we call on patriots to join us as we occupy the National Human Rights Commission offices across the country, as it is legally mandated to protect rights and it reports to the Presidency.”
The statement was signed by Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, (Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre and Transition Monitoring Group), Osai Ojigho (Amnesty International, Nigeria), Idayat Hassan (Centre for Democracy and Development), Auwal Musa (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and ‘Yemi Adamolekun, (Enough is Enough Nigeria, Nigeria).
Other signatories were Lanre Suraj, (HEDA and Peoples Alternative Front), Kola Ogundare (Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project), Jaye Gaskia, (Take Back Nigeria) and Deji Adeyanju (Concerned Nigerians).
Meanwhile, the group has petitioned the United States to protest the re-arrest of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protests, Sowore, by armed operatives of the Department of State Services at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The groups, during a protest to the US embassy in Abuja, submitted a petition to the American government urging it to place a visa ban on the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; and their families.
The representatives of the groups included the Coordinator, Free Nigeria Movement, Raphael Adebayo; the Secretary, United Action for Democracy, Kunle Ajayi; Juwon Sanyaolu of Take It Back Movement; and Coordinator, Coalition In Defence of Nigeria and Constitution, Dare Ariyo-Atoye.
Adebayo, who spoke on behalf of the groups said, “The latest arrest of Sowore, which happened within the precinct of court, and which was led by gun-wielding officers of the DSS who stormed the court with an apparent resolve to stop at nothing to effect the re-arrest of Sowore, typifies the disturbing fact that the rule of law and human rights have become victims of executive despotism in Nigeria.”
The groups highlighted the “strong” condemnation of Sowore’s detention and the violation of his basic and constitutionally guaranteed rights by the US Department of State on Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
They, however, expressed the belief that the US could do more, citing its strategic role in ensuring that democracy was not undermined in Nigeria by anti-democratic and fascistic elements within the country.
They added, “We, therefore, request in the best interest of Nigeria’s Democracy, that a visa-ban be imposed on the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, and his immediate family, for undermining Nigeria’s democracy.
“We also request that a visa-ban be imposed on the Attorney General of the Federation in Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, and his immediate family, considering his eerily suspicious silence in the face of the desecration of rule of law and violation of human rights by the DSS in Nigeria.
“Equally, we urge the US to impose as many other sanctions as deemed necessary on Nigeria, to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and human rights in Nigeria.”
While describing the role of the US in sustaining democratic ideals and values in Nigeria as inestimably immense, the activists expressed the hope that it would continue to defend the fundamental freedoms and rights of Nigerians.