John Campbell, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria has accused President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of tainting Nigeria’s global reputation.
Campbell made this accusation in a post on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled: Buhari’s Dictatorial Past and the Rule of Law Today in Nigeria.”
He said the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the re-arrest of the convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, has already damaged Nigeria’s international reputation.
The diplomat also spoke also about PUNCH’s editorial, titled, ‘Buhari’s lawlessness: Our Stand’, saying, “During the period of military rule, Punch was known for its democratic and human rights activism. The military closed it three times and imprisoned its editor and deputy editor. It remains to be seen how the Buhari government will respond.”
“The state security service (SSS) assault on a courtroom and the re-arrest of Sowore has already damaged the country’s international reputation.
“Buhari is not surprising, but it is worth noting that Zakzaky and Dasuki are both northern Muslims. What is different this time is the parallelism between military rule and Buhari’s civilian administration.
“Nigeria’s foreign friends will be hoping that the government takes no move to limit Punch’s freedom of expression.
“The Sowore re-arrest is consolidating opposition to the president by civil society, the press, international opinion and now religious leaders. It is to be hoped that the Buhari administration is looking actively for a way to defuse the Sowore issue, perhaps by allowing him to return to the United States.”
KanyiDaily recalls that Sowore was arrested on August 3 for planning #RevolutionNow, a series of protests to demand an end to corruption and demand better living conditions for all citizens.
The protests were planned to commence on August 5. But on August 3, armed DSS officers broke into an apartment Mr Sowore was occupying with some of his associates in Lagos.
He and his associate, Olawale Bakare, were taken away in the raid that was captured by security cameras.
The DSS refused to release Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare despite two separate court orders for his release.
They were eventually released on December 5 after 124 days in detention following a court on that day directed the DSS to release both men within 24 hours.
A day later, the DSS stormed the court to re-arrest Mr Sowore after disrupting his ongoing trail. He has been held without fresh charges since then.
It was based on the treatment of Mr Sowore and other cases of violation of the rule of law that Punch released the scathing editorial that announced that it will prefix President Buhari’s name with his military rank, Major General, and will refer to his administration as a “regime,” until “they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”