The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) says that constantly engaging in aggressive and intimidating posture in civil policing is not part of the Nigerian Army’s constitutional mandate of defending the territorial integrity of the country. Disagreeing in totality with the methods deployed by Nigerian Army in responding to whatever professional misdeeds it perceived in Daily Trust in a statement in Abuja, CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa says the military cannot resort to self-help and excessive show of force to intimidate civilians whenever it feels aggrieved. The security agencies, he posits, must desist from taking the laws into its hands as there are proper channels to be followed whenever it feels that it has issues with organizations or persons. Resorting to the use of force and intimidation of the supposed ‘enemy’ as well as everyone living around any area under siege must to be discontinued. He argues that Nigeria must continue to count itself among the comity of civilized nations.
Calling the invasion of Daily Trust offices in Abuja and Maiduguri “unnecessary show of excessive force and arbitrary arrests of staff of the media outfit as well as acts of intimidation and threat to freedom of press and the rule of law, the NGO boss is saying that a free and proactive press is indispensable in a true democratic society and remains a veritable platform for informing and educating citizens to effectively engage issues of governance while also holding government accountable.
While conceding that journalists and the media should be responsible within the rule of law and avoid acts that could undermine the peace and security of the nation, Musa expressed surprise that after about two decades of Nigeria’s return to democratic system, enabling instrument of democracy like freedom of press remains a difficult thing to achieve. “We are seriously disturbed by the persistent and unchecked violation of the rule of law in recent times by security agencies including unjustifiable threats against vital institutions of democracy and human rights in the country”, contended CISLAC.
Frowning at what the Executive Director calls existing high-handed response deployed by security agencies to civil issues, he says such creates public doubt about their readiness and credibility to sincerely conduct themselves appropriately in the 2019 general elections without fear or favour. CISLAC is, therefore, demanding the immediate release of the undemocratically arrested personnel of Daily Trust while also calling for adequate oversight activities by relevant legislative Committees in the National Assembly on the conduct of military agents across the country. It is also encouraging the media and general public to continue to uphold democratic core values without fear or favour.