The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has condemned the continuous detention of the Sahara Reporters publisher, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, by the operatives of Department of State Service (DSS) and called for his immediate in the interest of national unity.
Making its stand known in statement signed by its National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, PANDEF noted that the reasons adduced for his arrest negate both constitutional and democratic norms that guaranteed the right to protest and freedom of expressions.
The body who berated the security outfit for going after the politician/activist, said it would amount to gagging the opposition in the present dispensation, as the concerns raised for organising the said protest are quite genuine.
The statement read in part: “PANDEF condemned in strong terms the arrest of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, by DSS for his active role in the planned nationwide march to demand decisive actions, from the government, on the nation’s security, economic, educational and healthcare challenges.
“PANDEF equally, condemns the actions of the Nigeria Police Force for describing the planned protests as treasonable felony and acts of terrorism.
“If we may ask, how can protesting against insecurity, suffering and hardship in the country occasioned by misrule, amount to a treasonable felony?
“Meanwhile, those who are actually threatening the unity and stability of the country by killing and maiming innocent Nigerians daily, are freely moving around in the country.
“It is disconcerting that the Federal government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari is increasingly becoming intolerant of criticism and contrary opinions, and undemocratic in its actions.
“The fundamental human rights of association and expression of views are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution provides amongst other things that every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his or her interests.
“We would, therefore, call on the APC-led Federal government and agencies of government to demonstrate greater respect for the nation’s constitution and its provisions, particularly those concerning fundamental rights such as the right to life, right to dignity of the human person, right to personal liberty, right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association.
“Furthermore, PANDEF calls for the immediate release of Mr. Omoleye Sowore and all those Nigerians who may have been arrested in the course of peacefully demonstrating their disaffection at the state of affairs of the nation.
“The Federal government ought to note the issues highlighted by the RevolutionNow protestations and take needed actions to address the hardship in the country, rather than cracking down on citizens for exercising their rights to speech, association, and assembly.”