By Idris Mohammed
The arrest and re-arrest of the activist and publisher of Sahara reporters an online Newspaper, Mr. Omoyele Sowore has continued to generate a lot of controversial comments from Nigerians and even international communities. Sowore and his friend Bakare were in the Department of State Services (DSS) custody for over 150 days on the alleged treason charges.
The presidency is accusing him of mobilizing people against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, other charges include an alliance with proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and planned to mislead public to violently change the government through `#RevolutionNow` protest.
The Sowore`s case has since taken different dimension which seems there may be a hidden agenda by the present administration to silence the critics and making the civic space uncomfortable for the upcoming young ones.
The pro democrats will surely agree with me that freedom of expression is the only way to enjoy genuine democracy. Though Nigerian politicians have been paying lips service on the concept of democracy and its entrenchment, in reality, it has remained hoax.
Progressive democracies do not disregard court orders or turning their heads against the application of the rule of law. One of the cardinal points of constitutional democracy is the respect of the freedom of speech and the total adherence to the constitution.
It seems the present administration has its own way of defining democracy which is more authoritative. It is not a surprise for Nigerians to witness the muzzling or brazing rape of these cardinals of democracy under the watch of so-called democrats.
The December 6 melodrama that led the DSS to invade court in commando-style is a national disgrace. Why would the DSS disrupt court proceeding? Despite the fact that the law simply asserts that- no arrest can be effected in a courtroom, it is a sanctuary of some sort because the civil process act defines the precinct of the court as anywhere between the gate to the courtroom.
Instead of our president or minister of justice to condemn the act and quickly call them to order, he keeps silent. Though the Presidency and DSS denied the incidence in the first instance the DSS later apologized to the judge and also to Sowore`s lawyer, Femi Falana for their unprofessional conduct.
Recalled, two competent courts ruled or demanded that DSS should release Sowore but they confidently disobeyed the order. Why would DSS refuse to obey court order? If they can be granted access to suspect or even allowed to keep suspects in their custody, why should they act differently when the same court orders the release of the suspect?
Whosoever is advising the presidency or Department of State Service (DSS) to disregard court orders and break the laws of the land by neglecting the rule of law is the true enemy of our democracy.
Agreed, they have the right to deny anyone his freedom especially in a situation where such freedom will be an issue to public disorder, security or immorality but the Sowore`s case can be easily resolved through obeying the court orders by both parties.
It will be good for DSS to allow a court to decide on the case or pass their judgment than continue detaining him in their custody. This unjustifiable treatment meted on Sowore or disobeying of a court order will create sympathy for the victims and make our democracy a laughing stock in the comity of nations
Regardless of the situation, President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the highly respected African leaders not only in Nigeria but across the globe.
He shouldn’t allow his image to be tarnished because of the interest of the few. The president has said it in various fora that he will uphold the rule of law. The doctrine of separation of power should be properly adhered to by the three arms of government. We are not in military junta in which laws are not obeyed. We are in a constitutional democracy.
The Department of State Service (DSS) should be called to order and respect the rulings of the court. Nigeria is above everyone, and the country indeed needs peaceful coexistence and freedom not agitations and unnecessary chaos!
Idris Mohammed a Human Right Defender and Public Commentator Writes from Abuja. He tweets @ Idris4P