Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has questioned reasons behind the continuous detention of a ‘journalist’, Jones Abiri by the Department of State Security (DSS), accusing the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of human rights abuses.
Abiri’s situation was disclosed by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, which alerted that the journalist has been in the custody of the secret police since 2016, calling for his immediate release.
But the presidency through Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Buhari defended DSS’s action, arguing that Abiri is not a registered journalist with any of the media professional bodies in the country.
However, Falana is not convinced at the presidency defence, querying that no matter the profession of Abiri, his indefinite detention is needless and an infringement on his rights.
“Assuming, without conceding, that 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?”, he queried.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria observed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is committing the same abuse it accused erstwhile ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it was in opposition, recalling how APC incessantly lamented the violation of the fundamental rights of their members and other Nigerians.
He reminded APC how “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.”