The Department of the State Security Service (DSS) has accused the African Action Congress (AAC) candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Omoyele Sowore, of working with his foreign allies to cause confusion and destabilise Nigeria through his purported "revolution" march slated for today.
To avoid the worst scenario in the country, the DSS said yesterday that its operatives had picked Sowore for crossing the red line when he called for a revolution against a democratically-elected government in the country.
Sowore is believed to be the convener of "#RevolutionNow" protests. He posted a distress tweet at exactly 1:25am with an eyewitness confirming that his phone was forcefully taken from him.
DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, who confirmed Sowore's arrest, said: "We also believe that he is working with some people outside the country to cause confusion and anarchy."
Afunanya said that the Service acted within the confines of law and in the national interest in taking Sowore into its custody.
He said: "This is to confirm that Omoyele Sowore is with us here at the DSS. I want to start by saying that the Department of State Services is a responsible organisation operating in a democratic setting and we adhere strictly to the fundamentals of democracy. The DSS as you are aware has the responsibility of protecting and defending the Federal Republic of Nigeria against domestic threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of Nigeria, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to both federal and state law enforcement organs.
"Our job also involves the detection and prevention of crimes against the internal security of Nigeria. The Service is also charged with managing, containing, curtailing and eliminating threats against the security of Nigeria. These threats include sabotage, subversion, terrorism and threats against espionage and others," he said.
Giving further details why the DSS resorted to arresting the politician, Afunanya said that if the agency operates as a responsible organisation and someone calls for a revolution in Nigeria, it implies that there is a problem.
According to him, "a revolution is primarily a revolt, insurgency, forceful takeover of government. In Nigeria, we operate a democracy. Nigeria is not a banana republic and cannot suddenly be made one. Nigeria is respected in the comity of nations; Nigeria is not just the giant of Africa, but the pride of Africa.
"The DSS will not sit down and watch someone with his cohorts rise to destabilise Nigeria's unity, peace, and constitutionalism. Whether Sowore is with the DSS or not is not an issue as the answer is in the affirmative and an emphatic yes and why is he with us? He has crossed the line! He has threatened public safety. Sowore has, as a matter of fact, threatened the coexistence, social harmony of Nigeria. There is apprehension and anxiety as citizens are worried as to what would happen next," he said.
Afunanya said that the question was whether the DSS was supposed to take Sowore in? In his response, he said: "The answer is yes. Did we act within the confines of the law? The answer is yes. Are we acting within our mandate? The answer is yes. Are we supposed to do what we did? The answer is yes. Sowore is with us.
"Sowore himself said that come tomorrow (today), there won't be Nigeria, security services and institutions will cease to exist and all these threats are in the public domain. We don't need to wait for the threats to take place before going into action," he said.
The DSS spokesman called for calm and assured Nigerians that there would be peace and not a revolution in Nigeria today.
Afunanya said: "I want to use this opportunity to assure law-abiding Nigerian citizens and friends of the country and indeed, people of the world that 5th August, 2019; there would be absolute peace in Nigeria, nothing would happen, the government has been democratically elected and there would not be any forceful takeover of the government.
"We are calling on all Nigerians and all persons with good conscience to disregard the call for a revolution and support the state. We urge people to go about their normal businesses as we want to reiterate that there won't be anything like revolution and we will work with all stakeholders to ensure that peace is maintained in the country.
"The DSS would not stand by and watch self-serving people take laws into their hands. We will do all in our power to ensure that there is peace in Nigeria tomorrow (today) and beyond.
"If any person who has contested an election and didn't succeed or feels otherwise, all you need to do is to follow the normal process or go back, rework your strategy and wait for another election. We will not shy away from our responsibility of protection and the constitution has said this country is indivisible, indissoluble and we all must support in it," he said.
The DSS also warned that calls to destabilise the country, make children stay away from school and force markets to close would not be tolerated and condoned.
Sowore had on Saturday at about 1.25 am posted a distress tweet about the DSS invading his home.
Days Of Coups, Revolutions Over, Presidency Declares
Meanwhile, the presidency has said that coups and revolutions are no longer acceptable across the world for bringing unpopular people to power.
It drew attention to the activities of an organisation that calls itself the "Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria" which plans a "revolution" march today (Monday 5th August), with the aim of bringing "regime change" in Nigeria without recourse to a nationwide vote.
President Muhammadu Buhari's media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement said that the Nigerian leader and his administration respect and uphold the right of every Nigerian to peaceful protest and civil campaign - whether to raise awareness on issues, and even oppose the government.
Shehu stated that it is the inalienable right of all citizens of Nigeria to do so, but pointed out that there is a difference between peaceful call to protest and incitement for a revolution.
He said: "The organisation championing this planned action is not fronted by any serious public faces. We call on the sponsors and organisers to have the decency to come forward and make their identity known - out of respect to all Nigerians - so that Nigerians can be fully aware in whose name this "revolution" is being proposed and who the beneficiaries may be.
"Less than six months ago, Nigeria held simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections. Both contests were won resoundingly by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC).
"The campaign was observed, and results were confirmed by international election monitoring groups and observers. The result is being contested by the losing presidential candidate and his party in court.
"The ballot box is the only constitutional means of changing government and a president in Nigeria. The days of coups and revolutions are over.
"Those making the 'revolution' call hide behind the veil of social media modernity. But without revealing the identity of their sponsors, this shadowy campaign is no better, and no more democratic, than the days of old. The president calls on all those who seek to use and hide behind everyday citizens to attain power through undemocratic and violent means, which has been alluded, to come out clearly and be identified.
"They should lead their march in person. Only then will they begin to have the right to call themselves leaders before the people of Nigeria," Shehu stated.
Count North Out Of It, Says Coalition
In its swift reaction to the development, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said that the northern part of the country had nothing to do with the purported "revolution" march.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Kaduna, the group's spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said that after reviewing the calls, the CNG has resolved "that the ultimate aim of the proponents of the march who are at best couriers of a foreign destabilisation plot, have not been clearly and satisfactorily defined which renders the whole exercise suspect."
He said that the CNG remains unshakable in its understanding that every civil disagreement can be resolved through honest, sincere and open discussions without unnecessary recourse to actions liable to further inflame tensions without achieving lasting results.
Suleiman said that the CNG was not disposed to participating in, supporting, encouraging or in any way promoting actions that were potentially violent, sponsored by obscured organisations with suspicious motives.
The group averred that it had failed to see how the interest of the northern people, can be served by a movement led by those who have been directly or remotely connected to the decades-old agenda for the emasculation of the North.
The CNG, therefore, called on all northerners to disregard the calls and resist the temptation of being dragged into participating in any way in a movement that would turn out to the disadvantage of the region.
Suleiman said: "The CNG categorically dissociates itself from the organisation, promotion and participation in any conduct capable of worsening the already dicey situation the country and particularly the North is in today. We reassert our commitment to the propagation and protection of the rights of all northerners and never will fall into the traps set by its traditional internal and external traducers in whatever guise.
"We are quite aware of the covert and overt machinations of some western supremacists to achieve the final destabilisation of Africa by targeting some key African nations which may not exclude Nigeria.
"The similar foreign agenda that unfolded with the ugly scenarios of destruction in Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt and others are very fresh for us to realise the futility of jumping on a flight without knowing its actual destination.
"For the avoidance of doubt, the North shall at all times remain ready to enter into any civilised and decent discussion with any part of the country for whatever intent and purpose without succumbing to temptations of exposing innocent lives to unnecessary danger.
"Up to this point, the North has maintained its position as the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilisation, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits. In the unfolding political chess game, it is essential, therefore, that the North anticipates and checks the manoeuvres of its self-appointed enemies in all possible and likely scenarios such as this one," he said..
Sowore's Arrest, A Travesty - Soyinka
On his part, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has condemned the arrest of Sowore by the DSS over the planned "revolution" protest. He described the act as a travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.
Soyinka said that the young politician never engaged in any treasonable act as being claimed by the inspector-general of police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
In a statement, titled: "Surely, Not Again!!!," Soyinka said that the deployment of alarmist expressions such as "treason", "anarchist", "public incitement" and so on by "security forces had become so predictable and banal that they have become meaningless."
He said that beyond the word "revolution", another much miss-used and misunderstood word, nothing that Sowore had uttered, written, or advocated suggested that he was embarking on, or urging the public to engage in a forceful overthrow of government.
According to him, demonstrations and processions were time honoured, democratic ways of drawing not only the attention of government to ills, but of mobilising the public towards a proactive consciousness of their condition, and thereby exhorting civil societies also to devise means of ameliorating their condition through their efforts.