Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has berated the Department of State Services for the continued detention of the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, saying the action was not only callous, but criminal.
Soyinka said all civil society organisations must unite to give a coordinated response against the government for violating the rights of citizens.
The playwright noted that if the government could not allow the rule of law to reign, it should declare the “death of ordered society” so citizens could know where they stood.
He spoke after the attack on some civil right groups and journalists at the DSS office in Abuja.
The groups had gone to demand the release of Sowore after bail conditions set for his release were met by his counsel.
However, DSS operatives swooped on the protesters with pepper spray and fired live bullets to chase them away.
Soyinka, in a statement on Wednesday, commended the efforts of the “Concerned Nigerians,” saying the level of arrogance by government agencies had crossed “even the most permissive thresholds.”
He said, “Predictably, the ham-fisted response of the Directorate of State Security continues to defy the rulings of the court. The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resorted 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.”
Soyinka said the Nigerian government must be reminded that people in other countries who trampled on established human rights which generated homicidal impunity were, years later, called to account for such abuse of power and crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil rights society has vowed to continue protest for Sowore’s release.
The coalition condemned the attack on #Freesowore protesters by the DSS operatives at their headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.
The group stated that the attack on their members “showed that President Muhammadu Buhari is running a dictatorship again.”
The activists were demanding the release of Sowore when DSS officials assaulted some of them and also fired live bullets in the air.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, the coalition such as Concerned Nigerians, Enough is Enough, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution and others, vowed to continue with the protest for Sowore’s release until he was freed.
The Executive Director, Enough Is Enough, Yemi Adamolekun admonished Nigerians to resist what she called the growing tyranny in the country which she said could take away the people’s rights and liberty if not checked.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Wednesday, charged the Department of State Service to immediately release Sowore and Bakare.
He asked the agency to stop exposing Nigeria to ridicule with its ever-changing excuses for continuing to hold on to them in violation of the Federal High Court’s order for their release.
Falana was replying the DSS’ latest statement issued by its spokesperson, Peter Ifunaya, on Wednesday, when the agency blamed the continued detention of the Sahara Reporters publisher and Bakare on the failure of their sureties to show up to receive them from custody.
The senior lawyer narrated the steps that his legal team had taken to ensure the release of their clients since a bailiff first attempted to serve the court’s warrants for the release of the two men on the DSS on November 6, 2019.
He explained that the agency’s latest excuse that his clients’ sureties were not available to receive them was baseless, as it was never part of the conditions of the bail granted them by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He stated, “Even when five of us were charged with treasonable felony in May 1992, we were released after we had met the bail conditions.”