The convener of #Revolutionnow, Omoyele Sowore, was recently rearrested in controversial circumstances. While there are claims that his arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) took place inside a high court, the DSS has insisted that the suspect was arrested outside the court.
However, an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has appealed for calm over the matter. The group prefers dialogue in resolving the impasse. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the group’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 16th December, 2019.
According to MURIC, “Sowore is an active member of civil society. Perhaps this is why human rights groups are in a hurry to castigate the DSS and call President Buhari names. But has civil society pursed to ponder on Sowore’s tactical blunder? We all must admit that it was improper for a man who lost an election to lead #Revolutionnow against the winner of that same election just a few months later. It amounts to seeking to gain by the bends what he could not get at the straight.
“In our efforts to engage in dialogue over the Sowore furore, we were confronted with a statement purportedly made by the activist politician. He was alleged to have said on 25th July, 2019, ‘I’m not talking of protest. I’m embarking on revolution. 85% of Nigerians are in support. Don’t tell me about legal implications or what a Judge will say. I don’t care. We must bundle Buhari out of that place…the DSS shall cease to exist!’
“If it is true that he said the above, those of us in civil society should have the courage to tell him that he went too far. We all know what has been happening across the globe. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunissia, Spain, Venezuela, etc are examples. No nation takes threat to security lightly.
“As a human rights group, MURIC wants Sowore freed. We are for constitutionalism and rule of law. But national security must not be jettisoned. Those of us who are leaders of civil society must realise that we have a duty to lead responsibly. Radicalism must not shut the door against rationalism. We believe that aluta must stop where any matter affecting national security starts.
“In DOKUBO-ASARI V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2007) ALL FWLR (PT 375) 588, the Supreme Court per Muhammed JSC (CJN Rtd.) had the following to say:
“Where national security is threatened or there is real likelihood of its being threatened, human rights or individual rights of those responsible take second place. Human rights or individual rights must be suspended until national security can be protected or taken care of. This is not anything new. The corporate existence of Nigeria as a united, harmonious, indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation is certainly greater than any citizen’s liberty or right. Once the security of this nation is in jeopardy and it survives in pieces rather than in peace, the individual liberty or right may not even exist”
“Those of us who love Sowore and Bakare should seek diplomatic ways of securing their freedom instead of making matters worse by confronting the Federal Government (FG), calling President Buhari names and planning demonstrations. If we are sincere, a man who has had the opportunity to arrogate our common patrimony to himself but has refused to steal one kobo should not be the target of attacks by civil society.
“This is where the Punch newspaper missed the point. Journalism is not a licence for criminality. 15 million Nigerians voted for Muhammadu Buhari early this year, not as Major General (rtd) but as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It amounts to insulting those 15 million tax-paying patriots, nay, the whole 200 million Nigerians over whom President Buhari presides, for Punch to label President Buhari with a military title and to insist on using that title for him in all its publications.
“This action of the Punch newspaper is an exhibition of excessive excess, journalistic rascality, and, indeed, an infra dignitatem. This is not freedom of speech. It is sheer display of arrogance, hatred of Buhari’s personality and incitement of the public against a nation’s president. If we are a serious nation, all arms of the Nigerian government, including ministries, parastatals, federal institutions, etc, should blacklist the Punch newspaper for desecrating the highest office in the land. This should also be replicated at the state level and by all patriotic Nigerians until that newspaper apologises. We must put a stop to tyranny of the pen.
“MURIC is miffed by the double standard manifested by the United States in its unsolicited interference in a matter that is totally internal. Why couldn’t America bully Spain when that country jailed Catalonian separatists this year? Why does the US pour billions of its dollars into the Sissi-led regime in Egypt in spite of the latter’s terrible human rights record particularly against the Muslim Brotherhood?
“America’s veto of the United Nation’s resolutions against Israel has emboldened that country to kill innocent Palestinians in their hundreds, including children. For the first time in a long period, Nigeria is experiencing good governance. America is supporting dictators and tyrants elsewhere but is keen on undermining this good governance, transparency, probity and accountability in Nigeria. Is America pushing for the ignition of an African spring?
“On its own part, the Nigerian civil society ignores the persecution of millions of Muslims in the country. Hundreds of female Muslim children are locked out of school in the South West over an ordinary head scarf which Britain, Ireland and other Western countries allow, but our human rights neighbours look the other way.
“What kind of human rights groups do we parade in this country? Most members of the Nigerian civil society practice selective activism. Was civil society on sabbatical when Amasa Firdaus single-handedly took on the Nigerian Law School over her right to wear hijab? Just yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) took a heavily biased stand against the shariah and Muslims as if Muslims do not possess the Adamic chromosome and therefore do not qualify as human beings.
“Why do human rights groups behave as if Muslims have no right to enjoy fundamental human rights? Are Muslims not human beings? Why do they maintain criminal silence each time Muslims are persecuted? How can Muslims take such people seriously? How can any right-thinking person follow such crooked ideology of selective justice and exclusive determinism?
“Nonethess, MURIC does not wish to see a single activist behind bars. We therefore appeal to elder statesmen, high-ranking traditional rulers and religious leaders of the highest echelon to initiate dialogue with the Federal Government on the Sowore affair.
“In our concluding remarks, we advise members of civil society to call off its planned protest particularly in view of the fact that government has ordered a probe into the circumstances surrounding the re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare. We call on civil society to adopt a broader view of the human rights spectrum in such a way that it will also recognise the rights of Muslims in the Nigerian nation. We urge the US to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria by desisting to interfere in her internal affairs.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)