By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- A coalition of Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, has condemned what it referred to as the conspiracy of silence of the spokesman of the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign council, Barrister Festus Keyamo over the continued detention of rights activist, Deji Adeyanju.
The CSOs- Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Free Nigeria Movement and MadConnect, in a joint statement on Thursday, called on the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to wade into the matter with a view to establishing the possible involvement of Keyamo in the continued detention of Adeyanju, given the fact that he (Keyamo) was once a lawyer to the activist.
The statement, signed by Ariyo-Dare Atoye, convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Adebayo Raphael, co-Convener, Free Nigeria Movement and Moses Paul of MadConnect read in part:
“It is important to note that during the course of his trial in 2009, Mr. Adeyanju was represented by Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who is currently the spokesperson for the re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari. This fact is important in the light of Mr. Adeyanju’s criticism of the Buhari administration over the last 3 years which had resulted in several arrests and detentions.
“It is instructive to note that Mr. Keyamo now works for the Buhari presidency which, by all indications, wants Mr Adeyanju out of circulation before, during and immediately after the 2019 general election for obvious reasons.
“Mr. Keyamo’s stoic silence in the matter, at the expense of the continued violation of the rights of a person he once represented, therefore fuels concerns in the thoughts of many Nigerians that he may have played a key role in the design and execution of the plot to keep Mr. Adeyanju out of circulation in order to protect the interests of President Buhari and his campaign.
According to the group, “It is nearly impossible to escape this conclusion, seeing as a person of Mr. Keyamo’s standing in society and antecedents – especially as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, who should have been at the forefront of demands for Mr. Adeyanju’s release, knowing the facts of his acquittal in that matter, has chosen to remain silent. It is nearly impossible to resist the conclusion that Mr. Keyamo may have chosen to sacrifice his professional ethics on the altar of regime protection and at the expense of justice. It is obvious that Mr. Keyamo indeed has questions to answer on issues related to the illegal arrest and detention of Mr. Adeyanju.
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to conduct investigations into the circumstance surrounding Mr. Adeyanju’s illegal detention and possible involvement of Mr. Keyamo in his predicament.”
The group however, called for the unconditional release of the detained activist, stressing that there is no basis to continue to keep him in violation of the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).