By Hannu Afere

Omoyele Sowore has pleaded not guilty to charges amongst which is treasonable felony and has been remanded in custody until his bail hearing on Friday.

Of course, the reaction to this announcement has been social media wailing and demands for the Sahara Reporter Publisher’s release from custody. In fact, some members of the public have taken to calling him ‘our next president’ alluding to his failed bid for the position of Nigeria’s commander in chief. Though Sowore‘s release was previously ordered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, he was not only remanded in custody but brought to court again on different charges with whispers and speculation that the Federal government not only plans to keep Sowore in custody but have Justice Taiwo face the NJC on charges of ‘Judicial Misconduct’.

The Department of State Security seems to have developed the alarming habit of sneaking into people’s houses in the dead of the night and taking them into custody. These arrests may not be unlawful per-se but anyone who has fully developed reasoning faculties would notice that these arrests are usually carried out with questionable motives.

Speaking of alarming habits, it seems the Federal Government has developed a few of their own, most notable of which is to ignore orders issued by the courts. As evidenced in the case of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, Sambo Dasuki and a few others. These people, usually outspoken critics of the government are arrested and detained, sometimes for years with no end in sight even after courts have ordered their release and no one seems to be equipped to do anything about this gross abuse of power and the flagrant disregard for the fundamental concept of human rights. In the thorough examination of these incidents one has to wonder when the DSS became glorified gate keepers for Aso Rock? Do the individuals being held in custody really pose a threat to The security of the country? Or do they just pose a threat to the slippery grasp on power that members of the ruling class hold?

The objective observer would wonder, if the latter is the case, why the Federal government would worry about such inconsequential matters especially since the last suspect did run against the incumbent President and lost by a landslide.

Whatever the motivations are for these acts, the average Nigerian citizen should be worried when the Rule of Law is constantly twisted and shaped into a weapon disregarding it’s alternate usage as a shield. The Judiciary ought to function as a separate body from the Executive as Nigeria ought to work with the principle of Separation of Powers to institutes a system of checks and balances. ‘Ought to’ does not translate to the reality of things and Nigeria as a country seems to be slowly spiraling into the depths of anarchy. Like George Orwell’s Animal Farm where ‘all animals are equal’ but ‘some animals are definitely more equal than the others’. Is there hope in all of this?

Nigeria looks towards yet another independence and yet there is not really a sense of cohesion or security. The average Nigerian has accepted the truth that they don’t matter. It was Sowore yesterday for alleged ‘Cyberstalking’ tomorrow it might be the average person on social media whose opinions became a little too contrarian, a little too loud or garnered a little too much attention. It is frightening to realize that not only will there not be an end in sight but that if people as ‘well placed’ as Sowore can face such a gross miscarriage of justice then what chance does the common man have against such forces? Since when did the government and law enforcement become organs to fear? Fifty-nine years of independence and we have learnt next to nothing. We do not know how to begin to change the future Nigeria is barreling towards instead we start social media campaigns and half hearted protest in the streets, then drop the placards after a few hours, throw our hands in defeat and say at least we tried.

We have not tried.

Nothing will change until the average Nigerian sees the nation not as a geographical location that is engineered to oppress but as the country that can get better. It might sound difficult but let the plight of Sowore and so many other voiceless souls be a tale of caution and a word of warning.

Yesterday it was Sowore tomorrow it might be you and the chances are your doors are not as difficult to break down as Sowore’s probably was.

Happy (?) Independence (?) to Nigeria and Nigerians. Maybe this year we will begin to get it right, maybe we will not. Either way, Big Brother is watching.


Hannu Afere (c) 2019

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