- Its Ploy To Silent Voices of Dissent -Amnesty International
Amnesty International and a former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, have expressed dissatisfaction and worry over the fresh charges imposed on Omoyele Sowore, the co-convener of #RevolutionNow, and his continued incarceration by the Federal Government.
While Amnesty International calls it a misuse of the criminal system to silence critics and opposition, Ezekwesili described it as one that is intolerant of criticism.
At the expiration of 45 days order to detain Sowore, the Federal Government had filed a seven-count charge bordering on cyberstalking President Muhammadu Buhari, terrorism, felony and money laundering.
The charges had triggered mixed reactions from Nigerians and human rights group in the country, with a damning report condemning Buhari administration for what they called disrespect for human rights.
Amnesty International said the charges the activist was facing showed an attempt by the authorities to deprive him of his rights.
“Amnesty International condemns the bizarre charges pressed on activist, Omoyele Sowore, for expressing his views in media interviews.
“Omoyele Sowore’s continued incarceration on application of the Terrorism Act for exercising his right to freedom of expression is a misuse of the criminal system to silence dissent.
“The international rights group call on the Nigerian authorities to respect and protect human rights of all persons without discrimination and ensure that it does not use its laws to justify violations of Omoyele Sowore’s human rights,’’ the group said.
According to Ezekwesili, Sowore’s detention is unconstitutional and unlawful, describing the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as one that was intolerant of criticism.
Ezekwesili, a presidential candidate in the 2019 poll, said Sowore, the AAC presidential candidate’s rights had been trampled underfoot.
In a her Twitter handle on Sunday, she said despite the fact the Constitution allows free speech and criticism, the Buhari administration did not allow it.
“We stand on with @YeleSowore and defend his constitutional right and freedom to protest any matter of governance that worries him. Mr Sowore’s convening of citizens to protest poor governance – via #RevolutionNow– is constitutionally guaranteed.
“Democracy and voice are Siamese twins. The good kind of Siamese twins. No one regardless of their position is given the right to shut down voices like @YeleSowore’s for daring to disagree. How long shall it take before the FG @NigeriaGov understands the basics of democracy?
“Our FG @NigeriaGov led by @NGRPresident @MBuhari may think they have ‘caged’ @YeleSowore because he dared to challenge bad leadership and poor governance through #RevolutionNow. Not so, actually. His idea can never be caged. Why? You cannot cage an idea whose time has come.
“@YeleSowore is unconstitutionally and unlawfully detained for calling out deadly incompetence of the @NigeriaGov of @MBuhari,’’ she twitted.
Ezekwesili further added, “Not even the Judiciary is spared this spread of deadly incompetence. Here’s the thing. It is painful that @YeleSowore bears the brunt of the collective dissatisfaction of the citizens of Nigerians toward a grossly incompetent and intolerant @AsoRock.
“We must thank him for once again reminding us that: the power of the people is greater than the people in power.
“When the Citizens of Nigeria are ready, neither @YeleSowore nor anyone else need publicly mobilise them and be accused of `wanting to overthrow a government. The citizens shall on their own rid themselves of a trenchantly incompetent and wicked political class. It’ll happen.”
Sowore was arrested early August and taken to custody after the Department of State Services (DSS) secured a court order to keep him for 45 days.