Abuja — Following the arrest of Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore and total clamp down on the protesters across the country, the European Union Envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, has expressed support for peaceful protest by Nigerian citizens.
Karlsen said the EU stands firm on the principle of freedom of speech and fundamental values of democracy, adding that '"it is important that in any democratic society for people to be able to participate without any harassment."
The EU delegate who spoke at the EU Erasmus departure event in Abuja, however, noted that any democrat in the world must realistically make sure that their pronouncements are always non-violent; they respect the fundament rules of the game of democracy by the end of the day.
"The European Union stands firm on the principle of Freedom of speech and fundamental values. It is important that in any democratic society for people to be able to participate."
He denied having knowledge of any petition following the latest event in Nigeria, added that, '"As long as people seek peaceful means to demonstrate; they should be allowed to voice out their political opinions."
"This is what we see as part of thriving democracy. But of course; anything democracy in the world must realistically make sure that such pronouncements are always non-violent; they respect the fundament rules of the game of democracy by the end of the year."
When asked to rationalise the action of government, he said, "It is for the Nigerian justice system to follow up on specific case. As long as these cases are being dealt with in the Nigerian justice system, it is not for European Union or the EU ambassador to judge what is right or wrong on this occasion. But of course ,we follow very carefully when there are dissenting voices in the countries where we operate; we listen very carefully to all of them."
When asked if the EU is considering placing visa ban on perpetrators of violence in 2019 elections, he said it is not the EU's mandate to do so but its member states.
"It's not the EU mandate to determine travel restrictions, this is within the mandate of individual member states."
"You will all recall that for every single general election, we have provided recommendations and we have been working non-stop to make sure that those recommendations are being translated into real actions.
"Very recently, we had a brief encounter with all the independent election commissions in West Africa on how that can be done in practice. We are working very closely with all partners and EU member states in particular and also the US government to see that we promote the consolidation of democracy to our best ability," he added.
Also, the envoy revealed the EU had spent more than 100 million Euros in support of democracy in Nigeria since 1999.