Nigeria…The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has condemned the plan by the Inspector General of Police to arrest the media spokesperson of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, on trumped up charges bordering on incitement and a likelihood of the breach of public peace from a press release which Mr. Afegbua was said to have released on behalf of his principal.
ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev David Ugolor in a release yesterday said that the police order of arrest on Afegbua confirms apprehensions prevalent in the polity of muzzling of Civic space by the Federal government.
‘One of the hallmarks of a democracy is tolerance and a painstaking investigation into the remote and immediate causes of issues. If the Federal government goes on with the arrest of Afegbua, it sends out a very negative signal of intolerance, shoots itself in the leg and alienates itself. We believe that since Afegbua’s principal, former president IBB has since distanced himself from the said press release, and issued a rebuttal, the matter should be put to rest’, the Rev David Ugolor said in the statement.
The plan by the Federal government to arrest Afegbua coincided with the inaugural David Ugolor public lecture series which was organized with a view to address the many cases of killings, arrests, and impunity common in the public space in Nigeria today. In a paper titled: Shrinking public Space and innovation as panacea’ by a respected fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Sam Amadi, organizers hoped to proffer solutions to unwarranted arrests of journalists, Civil Society activists and Nigerians in general by the Federal government, and mostly on trumped up charges. The inaugural lecture admonished the Federal government to think out of the box, promote the rule of law and embrace ethical universalism and its emphasis on merit rather than ethnic identity and social status in allocation of social goods.
“What the Federal government of Nigeria should do now is try to correct any perceived ills in our democracy with more respect for the rights and privileges of the citizenry. The Police as a matter of fact must refrain from putting itself out as an organ of the party in power and not add to the unnecessary tension and apprehension in the polity”, the Rev Ugolor added.