Nigeria: Sowore, DSS and Disregard of Court Order

11 December 2019
opinion

Abuja — The arrest and re-arrest of the activist and publisher of Saharareporters, an online Newspaper, Mr. Sowore has continued to generate a lot of controversial comments from Nigerians and even international communities. Sowore and his friend Bakare were in Department of State Services' (DSS) custody for over 100 day on alleged treason charges. The Presidency is accusing him of mobilizing people against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; other charges include alliance with proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and plans to mislead the public to violently change the government through '#RevolutionNow' protest.

The Sowore's case has since taken different dimension which seems there may be hidden agenda by the present administration to silence the critics and making the civic space uncomfortable for the upcoming young ones. The pro democrats will surely agree with me that freedom of expression is the only way to enjoy genuine democracy. Though, Nigerian politicians have been paying lips service to the concept of democracy and its entrenchment, in reality it has remained a hoax.

Progressive democracies do not disregard court orders or turn their heads against the application of the rule of law. One of the cardinal points of constitutional democracy is freedom of speech and the total adherence to the constitution. It seems the present administration has their way of defining democracy - which is more authoritarian. It is not a surprise for Nigerians to witness the muzzling or the brazen rape of the cardinal principle of democracy under the watch of so-called democrats.

The December 6 melodrama that led the DSS to invade the court in commando- style is a national disgrace. Why would the DSS disrupt court proceedings despite the fact that the law simply asserts that- no arrest can be effected in a courtroom?

Whosoever is advising the presidency or DSS to disregard court orders and break the laws of the land is the true enemy of our democracy. Agreed, they have right to deny anyone his freedom especially in a situation where such freedom will be an issue to public order, security or immorality but the Sowore's case can be easily resolved through obeying the court orders by both parties. It will be good for DSS to allow court to decide on the case or pass their judgment than continue detaining him in their custody. This unjustifiable treatment meted on sowore or disobeying of court order will create sympathy for the victims and make our democracy a laughing stock in the comity of nations

President Buhari shouldn't allow his image to be tarnished because of the interest of the few. The president has said it at various fora that he will uphold the rule of law. The doctrine of separation of power should be properly adhered to by the three arms of government. We are in constitutional democracy.

Idris Mohammed, Abuja

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