The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has condemned the incessant attacks on SaharaReporters and other critics of Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The coalition, in a statement issued by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraj, urged the political leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party to which Saraki belongs, to immediately call the senate president to order, adding that his current expedition is capable of pitching the press and civil society against this government and the party.
Itemizing the various alleged expeditions of the senate president, the coalition said, “According to a petition published by SaharaReporters, a political activist in Kwara State, Kayode Oyin-Zubair, has been getting death threats for supporting Biodun Baba, a teacher arraigned in court for criticizing Senator Saraki on Facebook.
“Another critic, Ahmed Olanrewaju, was abducted from the Kwara State High Court and tortured by some characters with menacing threats, under the coordination of Chief Press Secretary to Kwara State Governor, after which Mr. Olanrewaju was forced, under duress, to make a statement that he was sent by Mr. Oyin-Zubair, under the sponsorship of SaharaReporters, to blow up the Kwara State High Court.
“The invasion of a court of law by thugs is not only an affront on the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is sacrilegious and must be investigated and prosecuted by the law enforcement agencies.”
CSNAC said it has observed and monitored, as a neutral party, the attempts by the senate president to illegally and immorally deploy the instrumentality of courts and security agencies within his control and influence to silence, harass, intimidate and liquidate the operations of SaharaReporters, an online newspaper reputed for its promotion of whistleblowing and investigative reporting.
“The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) condemns these acts of impunity in its entirety. We stand for the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and free press as guaranteed in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We hereby call on the party and political leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to immediately call the senate president to order as his current expedition is capable of pitching the press and civil society against this government and the party.
“It does not bode well for the party for a leader in the party hierarchy to assume the status of a dictator and emperor by intimidating people and sponsoring thugs to abduct ordinary citizens because of their opinions on his leadership or on the state of affairs in the country.”
The coalition said on the strength of the alleged flagrant abuse of office and power, violation of citizens rights, sacrilegious acts, and manipulation of the judiciary, it demands that:
“That Chief Justice of Nigeria and National Judicial Council monitor development in this particular case involving the senate president and SaharaReporters. Outcomes of this case are capable of exposing the judiciary to mockery at local and international levels. The judiciary is the hope of the common man. Everyone should feel safe there and secure that their case will be tried properly without fear of intimidation and bullying.
“That the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, should set up a special team to investigate the egregious act of impunity perpetrated by thugs who invaded the Kwara State High Court on August 30, 2017 and culprits brought to justice.
“That the Police force investigate the people behind the abduction, torture and humiliation of citizen Ahmed Olanrewaju and the person behind displaying his picture on Facebook. It is only police and other law enforcement that are empowered by law to obtain statement from any suspect. The action of these thugs who abducted a citizen is tantamount to false imprisonment or even kidnapping.
“That the Inspector General of police deploys a special crack team of mobile force to the Kwara State High Court on the next adjourned date of the matter to ensure that there are enough police officers in court premises to prevent hoodlums from carrying out their evil designs and to ensure that witnesses are protected and shielded from those who intended harms.”
CSNAC added that it condemned in strong terms the judicial and gestapo attempts of the senate president to intimidate, harass, liquidate and possibly frame up SaharaReporters and its publisher, Omoyele Sowore
“Finally, HEDA Resource Centre and CSNAC have appointed an independent lawyer on a watching brief to monitor court proceedings and report independently with the aim of ensuring that the judiciary lives up to its responsibilities of being the common man’s last hope for succor and for seeking redress without fear,” the coalition said.