By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Civil rights organisations under the banner of Free Nigeria Movement has staged a protest at the entrance to the State House, Aso Villa, demanding the release of citizens held in what it described as illegal detention for political reasons under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
Speaking during the protest, Co-Convener of the Movement, Dare Atoye, noted that human rights abuses, clampdown on free press, conscienceless assaults on the judiciary and obscene display of executive recklessness were fast becoming the order of the day across the country.
He said: “Today, we rise as Nigerians to say enough is enough. We rise to say these tyrannical attacks on democracy, activists, media, the judiciary, the legislature and the people cannot continue. We rise in defence of our nation and in condemnation of the assaults on our collective freedom.
“We want those in government today to know that power is transient. Like a punctured balloon, the pride, the greed and the boast can deflate anytime. We want them to know that an oppressive government lives in the fear of the people, while activists like Deji Adeyanju live in the courage of the people. Tyranny has no place in democracy.
“The increasing human rights abuses and the violations of rights to free assembly, association, and free speech, have made our civil spaces to become highly corrosive. For speaking truth to power, our brother Deji Adeyanju, a leading civil rights activist has been illegally detained for about 40 days in a Kano prison over a trumped-up charge. Truly, we are back to the Abacha days.
“We march today, demanding for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Nigeria. We march today, demanding for an immediate end to the siege on the media, judiciary and legislature.
“We march today to demand that the plight of the several millions of Nigerian students whose education has been truncated should no longer be ignored. We march today demanding that Nigeria must be free. We march today to tell those who think the people can be perpetually oppressed that the Revolution has started.
“We, the undersigned civil society representatives under the Free Nigeria Movement, have come together to awaken the consciousness of Nigerians to rise in defence of our democracy and country.”
The group also called on the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to undo the alleged wrongs of his immediate predecessor and return the police to the path of professionalism and integrity.
“Nigerians deserve a democratic police that serves and protects the people and is accountable to the people, rather than a regime police that is a law unto itself and only serves and protects regime interest,” Atoye said.