A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome has condemned the court order allowing the Department of State Services (DSS) to detain the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore for 45 days.
Reacting to the order, Ozekhome said the detention of Sowore is a bad news for democracy. He said the president Muhammadu Buhari led administration is intolerant to dissenting views.
He said: “The court could have ordered Sowore to show cause why he should not be detained for 45 days. I think it was discretion wrongly exercised, not having been exercised judicially and judiciously.
“In any event, Sections 39 to 43 of the Criminal Code and Section 410 of the Penal Code which criminalise treason envision a dire situation where an intention to overthrow a government, or overcame the president or governor of a state (called “mens rea”) is accompanied by overt acts (called “actus reus”), such as stockpiling and possession of arms and ammunition to physically carry out an insurrection, coup de’tat, or to use Sowore and his group’s terminology, ‘RevolutionNow’.
“Do mere uttered words ‘we will cause a revolution’ by Nigerians who are singing, dancing and carrying placards on the streets, shouting “aluta continua, victoria acerta,” without more, constitute treasonable felony? Especially, by Nigerians who are protesting against bad governance and have carefully itemized their grievances in writing?
“Do these amount to treason or treasonable felony? Do you announce a revolution if not for the mischief of some people deliberately reading the word literally rather than figuratively? Didn’t President Muhammadu Buhari in 2014 call for a revolution in Nigeria during campaigns for presidency? Didn’t Chief Bola Tinubu in 2011 call for a revolution? Were they interpreted literally to mean actual overthrow of the then government of President Goodluck Jonathan?
“To me, what all this boils down to is an intolerant government that is gravely and pathetically allergic to respect for and tolerance of criticism, the rule of law, individual fundantametal rights, political choices, plurality of voices, dissenting opinions and independence of the judiciary.”