The call for release of detained publisher of Sahara Reporters and a former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore is growing. Sowore was arrested yesterday and is being held for what the Department of State Security (DSS) says is advocacy for a revolution. In the latest round, the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, (OPAN) as well as Lagos State University, (LASU) academic, Prof Sylvester Odion-Akhaine joined earlier callers for his release.
The calls are spreading amidst clashes between protesters and the security forces especially in Lagos. It is being widely reported on other sites that combined teams of the police and the army are giving no quarters to the protesters. That is Lagos. The situation in other Nigerian cities remains unclear at the time of reporting. It is still too early in the day to get such a clear situation from other Nigerian cities.
The OPAN in the statement signed by Mr. Austyn Ogannah, its president, not only condemned the arrest of the publisher, it is also saying the right thing to do is to charge Sowore to court if he has broken the law. Otherwise, says OPAN, those keeping him are engaging in actions that are undemocratic and draconian.
LASU activist and academic, Professor Sylvester Odion Akhaine, sang the same song, using nearly the same words in describing Sowore’s arrest: inhuman, undemocratic and dictatorial. Arguing that Sowore had been arrested for “his intention to associate with fellow suffering Nigerians to make their voice heard on the maladministration of General Mohammadu Buhari administration”, Prof Akhaine demanded his release or risking of more inmates on the part of the government. .
The Nigerian State, said Akhaine, has collapsed under the watch of the incumbent administration and Nigeria has, according to him sunk to all-time low on all governance indices. “No nation has been so afflicted with a cluster of warped, anti-development and anti-intellectual elite as the one prevalent in our country today”, he said, warning those he said might be thinking it will be business as usual that could only be kidding themselves.
Insisting it should be known that sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people and that sovereignty is indivisible, the professor draws attention to the transient temporal occupier status of those currently holding public offices in Nigeria and who could, therefore, be dismissed by the people at any time.
Challenging Nigerians to be ready for the defence of their rights and bear that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, Prof Odion-Akhaine also insisted that, as things stand today, Nigerians have reached the cross-roads and could “no longer tolerate the prevailing incompetence, squandering of the wealth of the nation, poor management of the war against insurgents in the north east and the atmosphere of siege perpetrated by state-minded herdsmen across the country”.
There is no consensus on anything about the ‘revolution’. While the police authorities insist a revolution is a treasonable felony, some other voices disagree. Is this where the art of the possible alone can determine the meaning of the word revolution or is Nigeria leaving it all to a test of strength on the streets to decide?