Attacks On Court Observers By Saraki Supporters In Ilorin: CHRICED Flays Attacks On Critical Voices

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) today unequivocally condemned what it called “growing impunity” in the Nigerian polity manifesting in various vicious attacks on critical voices, activists, journalists and even the courts.

In a statement signed by Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, its Executive Director, it noted that enemies of dissent, free speech and alternative views have been making underhand moves to intimidate and harass heads of credible citizen platforms such as SaharaReporters.

It expressed its solidarity with all persecuted activists and  journalists, including the publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and other courageous citizens, currently being harassed and intimidated by perpetrators of grand acts of corruption and their supporters.

“CHRICED flays the recent show of shame in Ilorin, Kwara State where a court hearing the matter between the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Sahara Reporters, was invaded by thugs allegedly sponsored by the Senate President,” it said, warning that the resort to jungle antics, wherein the rich, powerful and corrupt interests sponsor thugs to invade the courts, harass litigants and roughen up opponents, is barbaric.

“It is unacceptable that apart from using their ill-gotten wealth to rig and pervert the cause of justice, the rich and corrupt interests in Nigeria have also gone to the extent of gathering unemployed youths and deploying them as thugs to engage in all forms of nefarious activities, including the disruption of court sessions.”

Noting that the failure of the Nigerian State to severely punish all such audacious assaults on its authority has further emboldened elements with similar machinations, CHRICED said there was precedence that on September 22, 2014, thugs said to be loyal to Ayo Fayose invaded an Ekiti State High Court, beat up workers and disrupted sitting on a case challenging the eligibility of Fayose to contest the June 21, 2014 governorship election.

“Akin to what happened in Ekiti State in 2014, men of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies, watched on, as the sponsored thugs took over the court and undermined the authority of the state in Ilorin recently,” the group said.  “They harassed litigants and unleashed terror. Till date, no one has been punished for that grave affront on the authority of the State.”

CHRICED stressed that if this barbaric trend is not arrested, it would precipitate lawlessness in the land, as citizens may likely resort to self-help in the face of the refusal of the State to enforce order, and protect a critical institution, without which the functioning of a democratic state cannot be guaranteed.

It therefore called on the Federal Government, through the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to immediately send a clear signal that these kinds of challenges to the authority of the Nigerian State would not be tolerated anymore.

“Also, marching orders should immediately be issued to law enforcement bodies to go after, and bring to book the thugs and their sponsors, who participated in the infamous desecration of the court premises in Ilorin,” CHRICED said.