Journalist-turned-politician Niyi Akinsiju has berated Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, and eminent lawyer Mr Femi Falana for criticising the arrest of citizen journalist and activist, Omoyele Sowore, and the clampdown on protesters by security agents believed to be acting on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A #RevolutionNow protest to draw attention to the worsening plight of Nigerians under the leadership of President Buhari has been met with heavy clampdown by security agents who arrested Sowore at the weekend and dispersed the protesters with teargas on Monday.
Soyinka and Falana have deploredthe government action, arguing that the citizens’ right to peaceful protest is inalienable.
But Akinsiju and one Cassidy Madueke in a statement on behalf of a group called the Buhari Media Organization, (BMO) sharply criticised the literary icon and lawyer.
The BMO urged “highly placed and influential Nigerians to always exercise restraint and decorum while reacting to public issues so as not to escalate existing tension in the polity.”
Akinsiju and Madueke, as chairman and secretary respectively of the BMO, praised “the Federal Government on its proactive handling of the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest”, and “chided some eminent Nigerians for endorsing inciting comments by the protest planners.”
The BMO specifically called out Soyinka, Falana (SAN) and some civil society organisations “for encouraging what is capable of igniting violence and large scale mayhem in the country.”
It stated: “We are constrained to call on those backing the actions of this group, like Professor Soyinka and Femi Falana to retrace their steps as it is capable of emboldening other people with such violent inclinations.”
The group added: “We note with satisfaction that the Federal Government has taken the appropriate steps towards stopping these misguided elements from instigating a violent overthrow of a constitutionally-elected government.
“There is a constitutional means of changing government in Nigeria, and as a country we recently held democratic elections at both the State and Federal levels, therefore no basis for any group of people to seek other means of changing a sitting and legally-constituted government.
“Perhaps we need to remind Professor Soyinka and his co-travellers that the security agencies do not usually go out of their way to arrest people except in situations where there are glaring evidence that such people, through their actions or utterances, pose inherent risk to the unity and corporate existence of the country.”
According to the BMO, in the case of Sowore’s arrest, there is the need to remind Soyinka, Falana and others that the Directorate of State Services (DSS) had established a link between Sowore and some foreigners, as well as some Nigerians, “who are bent on causing disaffection in Nigeria with an intent to benefit from the conflagration that may arise therefrom.
“We consider it hypocritical on the part of the critics for being blind to the potential danger that the activities of Sowore and company posed to the country with their misguided attempt to cause havoc in the country.
“In our view, the Federal Government has taken the right step with the arrest of Sowore, the arrow head of the ‘RevolutionNow’, in order to nip their inflammmatory activities in the bud as failure to do that could plunge the country into avoidable chaos and violence.
“We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to ignore the shenanigans of mischief-makers and those hell-bent on dragging the country back to an inglorious past from which President Muhammadu Buhari is making all efforts to rescue her.”