By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
A Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Friday, called on the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, to release anti-corruption activist, Mahadi Shehu.
The call was contained in a statement signed by the Convener, CN, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, where they condemned the alleged arrest and detention of Shehu by the Katsina State Government.
The statement with subject ‘Release Katsina Whistleblower or Face Visa Ban’ reads in part, “Concerned Nigerians group calls on Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari to immediately release anti-corruption activist, Mahdi Shehu.
“Concerned Nigerians group condemns in its entirety, the arrest and detention of Anti corruption activist, Mahdi Shehu by Katsina State Government.
“The protection of human rights and the rule of law initiative is deeply concerned about the continuous detention of Mahdi Shehu, a Katsina based anti-corruption whistle-blower.
“There is a clear pattern of harassment of anti-corruption activists in Nigeria and this need to stop.
“We call on the Government of Katsina State to release Mahdi Shehu or we write embassies in Nigeria to place visa ban on officials of Katsina State Government for violating his rights. Journalism is not a crime. A free press holds those in government accountable.”
The statement also expressed worry over suppression of activists and civic freedom in the country.
“We are worried about the rapid deterioration of civic freedoms in Nigeria. These incidents are part of a broader crackdown on civil society, including on journalists and other whistleblowers.
“In Nigeria today, several legislations, such as the highly controversial Cybercrime law, are used as justifications to muzzle independent voices who attempt to hold government accountable”, it added.
Mahdi Shehu, Chairman of Dialogue Groups Limited, accused the Katsina State Government of having allegedly embezzled N52.6 billion within the last five years from the state’s security account.