By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
A pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, Thursday, condemned alleged jailing of a 70-year-old critic, Bala Izala, and two others for allegedly insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Katsina State, Rt Hon Aminu Bello Masari.
The condemnation was made in a statement signed by Spokesman, CN, Theophilus Abu Agada while reacting over arrest, detention, and detention of Izala and two others recently.
According to the group, the alleged action was shameful and abuse of office by President Buhari’s led government and Katsina State Governor over alleged insult by Izala, even when he had explained that it was out of anger he spoke words of insult.
The statement reads in part: “We condemn the shameful act of impunity and abuse of office by President Buhari’s led government and Katsina state governor, Aminu Masari over the arrest, detention, and sentence of a 70-year-old Bala Izala and two others for allegedly ‘Insulting’ the President and governor Aminu Bello Masari.
“Mr. Izala had said he spoke out of anger when he visited his village and found out that bandits had killed his family members and rustled 15 of his cows. Though some kind-hearted Nigerians were able to pay the option of fine slammed on Mr. Izala in securing his release, it is important to note that this is a gross abuse of power by the authorities.
“If President Buhari and Governor Masari had not failed in their constitutional duty in securing the lives and property of Nigerians and Katsina people instead of negotiating with terrorists and bandits, Mr. Izala wouldn’t have had any reason to criticize them which was tagged an insult.
“Even so, Mr. Izala has the constitutional right to criticize any elected official as guaranteed in section 39 of 1999 constitution which states that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
The group also called on the government not to continue with jailing those who criticize their actions, rather they should be committed to the welfare, well-being, and security of citizens as mandated by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian government to faithfully discharge their constitutional responsibility and stop jailing critics”. It added.