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‘Unpardonable blackmail,’ Presidency calls out Soyinka for backing Sowore



Soyinka warns Nigerian government against muzzling dissenting voices

The Presidency, in it is response to Professor Wole Soyinka’s position on the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, has accused the Nobel Laureate and other Nigerians of like minds of committing “unpardonable blackmail”.

Soyinka had described the arrest of Sowore by the Department of State Services (DSS) as “a terrorist midnight arrest” and called for his release.

But President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, in his response said, “Some of these critics of government are people whom we have great respect and admiration for. When things are going wrongly with law and order in the country, they say the Police are not doing their work. They raise their voices, asking that the culprits to be booked and expeditiously punished in the most severe manner.

“The police under a new leadership is now rising to the occasion, saying ‘we cannot take any more atrocities against the law in our country and they are saying don’t do anything. They are calling out President Buhari and comparing him to autocratic leaders.’ This is an unpardonable blackmail that cannot stop Police and other law enforcement agencies from doing their work.”

Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, a group convened by Sowore, had planed to stage a protest on Monday tagged, “Revolution Now”.

However, Sowore was arrested Saturday night. His arrest has continued to draw reactions from different quarters.

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The Nigerian government maintains that the call for a revolution is a call for violent change of government.

Garba said, “A Nigerian is by right empowered to call for a change of government using constitutional means; to protest peacefully against government policies and decisions. But to call for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government and president is not acceptable under any law in Nigeria. Violence will never be accepted again as a way to change governments in this country. Those days are gone.

“Nigeria has a well-crafted Constitution and elaborate laws governing elections that guide an orderly succession in government. We have a judicial system that actively serves as a watchdog of the people’s rights.”

“Yet, we are daily witnesses to obscene display of delight in the killing of our soldiers and policemen, an open contempt for the country’s laws and its people, accompanied by loud cheers from the so-called New Media. Is this the way to grow a country?” he added.

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