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‘Democracy in Danger’, CSOs Stage Protests in Abuja

Several hundreds of Nigerians, Civil Society Organizations, and Political Pressure Groups marched alongside Civil Rights Activists under the banner of the Free Nigeria Movement to protest against alleged human rights abuses, shrinking democratic spaces, clampdown on press freedom and citizens and political persecution, on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, in Abuja.

The protest which was led by Civil Rights Activists Adebayo Raphael, Ariyo Dare-Atoye and Moses Paul was massively attended by youth groups, Sofia and political movements like the Take It Back Movement and others.

Whilst reading a press statement on behalf of the Movement, Dare-Atoye, a Co-Convener of the movement, said: “Human rights abuses, clampdown on free press, conscienceless assaults on the judiciary and obscene display of executive recklessness are fast becoming the order of the day in our nation, even as power mongers enlist terror to turn Nigeria into a fascist enclave. The plan is to make everyone live in fear, and become subservient, except for them and their families and cronies.”

He went further to say “We know, that for the detractors, anyone who fails to fester their wicked and partisan interests, must be destroyed.

“It is obvious that the plan is to redefine our nation under the rule of man and not rule of law. They want it become a law, whatever they say irrespective of what the constitution or court may say. The repeated disobedience of court orders and abuse of judicial process by the powers that be is a disservice to our democracy.”

Dare-Atoye concluded the statement by stating that the Free Nigeria Movement is demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners including Deji Adeyanju, a leading Civil Rights Advocate who has been in prison detention for about 42days, and an immediate end to the siege on the judiciary, among others.

Read the full statement below: 

Today, we rise as Nigerians, we rise as compatriots and we rise as activists determined to save our nation from the precipice of hopelessness and anarchy. Our democracy is clearly in danger and on a perilous path because the civil space is fast shrinking, and fast giving way to dictatorship and totalitarianism.

Human rights abuses, clampdown on free press, conscienceless assaults on the judiciary and obscene display of executive recklessness are fast becoming the order of the day in our nation, even as power mongers enlist terror to turn Nigeria into a fascist enclave. The plan is to make everyone live in fear, and become subservient, except for them and their families and cronies.

Unfortunately, our nation is gripped by insecurity of unimaginable proportion. The nation has lost count of people being held by kidnappers. There is now a serious concern-fatigue in the land. Our security architecture has barely collapsed, while intelligence has been heavily compromised. Our soldiers, police and security agents are dying needlessly because of enemies within.

The ongoing assault on the judiciary is a dangerous precedent and a direct attack on our democracy, starting from when the homes of judges were invaded. The judiciary is the last hope of the common man, it is also an institution for restoring justice to a troubled land. The ordeal of the CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen has cast a thick dark shadow on our nation.

We know, that for the detractors, anyone who fails to fester their wicked and partisan interests, must be destroyed.

It is obvious that the plan is to redefine our nation under the rule of man and not rule of law. They want it become a law, whatever they say irrespective of what the constitution or court may say. The repeated disobedience of court orders and abuse of judicial process by the powers that be is a disservice to our democracy.

The increasing human rights abuses and the violations of rights to free assembly, association, and free speech, have made our civil spaces to become highly corrosive. For speaking truth to power, our brother Deji Adeyanju, a leading civil rights activist has been illegally detained for about 40 days in a Kano prison over a trumped-up charge. Truly, we are back to the Abacha days.

The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, is a prisoner of conscience. He has been condemned to perpetual detention after the brutal and gruesome killing of his family members and hundreds of his sect members. Senator Dino Melaye has become a political prisoner for daring to speak against the powers. The plot is to silence everyone and confine us to a fascist state.

We have seen a clampdown on media houses and fourth estate of the realm by the agents of the government. The recent invasion of Daily Trust buildings across the country was a coordinated attack on free press to intimidate journalists and media practitioners in the land. The Legislative arm is also not spared in the unfortunate onslaught against our democracy.

Today, we rise as Nigerians, we rise as compatriots and we rise as activists to say enough is enough. We rise to say these tyrannical attacks on democracy, activists, media, the judiciary, the legislature and the people cannot continue. We rise in defence of our nation and in condemnation of the assaults on our collective freedom.

We want those in government today to know that power is transient. Like a punctured balloon, the pride, the greed and the boast can deflate anytime. We want them to know that an oppressive government lives in the fear of the people, while activists like Deji Adeyanju live in the courage of the people. Tyranny has no place in democracy.

Across generations and ages, there are two other powers bigger and greater than the power of government: The Power of God and the power of the people. History has consistently recorded how these two powers have conquered the power of government. We want the Buhari-Osinbajo regime to take a historical note of this.

We march today, demanding for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Nigeria. We march today, demanding for an immediate end to the siege on the media, judiciary and legislature. We march today to demand that the plight of the several millions of Nigerian students whose education has been truncated should no longer be ignored. We march today demanding that Nigeria must be free. We march today to tell those who think the people can be perpetually oppressed that the Revolution has started.

We, the undersigned civil society representatives under the Free Nigeria Movement, have come together to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to rise in defence of our democracy and country.

We call on the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to undo the wrongs of his immediate predecessor and return the police to the path of professionalism and integrity. Nigerians deserve a democratic police that serves and protects the people and is accountable to the people, rather than a regime police that is a law unto itself and only serves and protects regime interest.

 

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