President Muhammadu Buhari has likened the activities of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, to Boko Haram terrorists operating in North-East part of the country.
The President stated this in reaction to criticisms that have trailed the re-arrest of the convener of Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, at the Federal High Court, Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
While the fighting between government forces and Boko Haram insurgents since 2009 in the North-East has led to death of several people and displacement of millions, Sowore recently called for a revolution against the government of President Buhari.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, explained that the criticism which followed the re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare inside the court premises is unnecessary.
DSS operatives were reported to have chased away a presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and assaulted journalists in their bid to arrest the duo of Sowore and Bakare in Abuja on Friday.
Reacting to the condemnation of the Buhari government over the re-arrest which happened inside the court premises, Shehu said Sowore remains a person of interest to the DSS.
“Again, it is no surprise that he (Sowore) should be a person of interest to the DSS. Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the North-Eastern region of our country.
“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.
“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu. This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers,” the presidential aide stressed.
The Presidential spokesman said no government around the world will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.
Shehu said: “No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.
“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.
“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.
“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.”
According to the presidential spokesman, the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution.
The Presidency explained that: “The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.
“Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet. He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 presidential election.
“Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.
“To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.”
Meanwhile, the US Department of State has expressed concerns over the re-arrest of Sowore.
In a tweet on Saturday, the United States reminded the Nigerian Government that respect for rule of law, freedom and judicial independence are key elements of democracy.
“We are deeply concerned that Sowore has been re-detained in Nigeria, shortly after a court ordered he be released on bail. Respect for rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of democracy,” the US Department of State said.