Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has urged the civil society groups in Nigeria to join hands to defend the rule of law and fundamental human rights.
Soyinka stated this in a statement titled, “Sowore, human rights and the rule of law” following the Department of State Services’ refusal to release the convener of the ‘Revolution Now’ movement, Omoyele Sowore, after meeting his bail conditions.
There have been reactions across Nigeria over the refusal of the DSS to release the Publisher of Sahara Reporter and co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, despite court orders ordering the service to release them.
The Nobel laureate said, “It should become abundantly clear by now that civil society organisations, committed to the entrenchment of the rule of law and the defence of fundamental human rights must come together. This is not a new cry. They must meet, debate, and embark on a binding pact of tactical responses whenever these two pillars of civilised society are besieged by the demolition engines of state security agencies.”
“The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat –these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life. Result?”
“A steady entrenchment of the cult of impunity in the dealings of state with the citizenry – both individuals and organisations. The level of arrogance has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.”
He commended the Concerned Nigerians for the move taken towards the release of the journalist on Tuesday only to be shot at by the DSS.
He added, “The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resort to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets. Why the desperation? The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail! It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering. That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!”
“Such a development is not only callous and inhuman, it is criminal. It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets? This is no longer comical. Perhaps it is necessary to remind this government of precedents in other lands where, even years after the event, those who trampled on established human rights that generate homicidal impunity are called to account for abuse of power and crimes against humanity.”