Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of committing the same “incessant infringements” his party, All Progressives Congress, APC, had accused their predecessor of perpetrating.
Mr Falana’s comments came just as the Committee for the Protection of Journalists raised an alarm over the arrest and detention of a journalist, Jones Abiri, by the Department of State Services, DSS, since 2016.
Thursday night, Garba Shehu, President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, defended DSS’ action, saying Mr Abiri is not a registered journalist with any of the media professional bodies in the country.
Reacting, Mr Falana said: “Assuming, without conceding, that Mr Abiri is a not a journalist, why should he be subjected to indefinite detention and not arraigned in a court of law for alleged economic sabotage?”
In a statement, Mr Falana said before it came into power, APC leaders had continually cried out against the violation of the fundamental rights of their members and other Nigerians.
According to the Senior Advocate, “the human rights community did not hesitate to take up the complaints of the victims of such abuse of human rights.
“For instance, at the instance of the defunct All Nigerian People Party, ANPP, and other opposition political parties, our law firm challenged the constitutional validity of Police permit when the Nigeria Police Force violently disrupted the rally held by ANPP in Kano in May 2003 to protest the rigging of the 2003 general election.
“General Muhammadu Buhari and other ANPP chieftains were teargassed and dispersed on the grounds that they had assembled without obtaining a Police permit.”
The ANPP is one of the political parties that metamorphosed into the APC in 2014. He continued: “The Federal High Court granted the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
“In upholding the fundamental rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and assembly, the court declared that Police permits for rallies and meetings were illegal and unconstitutional.
“The appeal filed against the judgment by the Inspector-General of Police was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, which held that Police permit was a relic of colonialism, which cannot be justified under a democratic dispensation,” he said.