By Idoko Ainoko
The recent attacks on the Department of State Service (DSS) with regards to the handling of the demonstrators demanding the release of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, is at best uncharitable. I say this for the fact that the demonstrators acted out of ignorance, and as usual, some segment of the country that does not see anything right with this present administration went to the market.
They were quick to cast aspersion and attempt to crucify the secret Police. This is somewhat not surprising in the sense that the nation has witnessed the upsurge of individuals and organizations that are hell-bent on causing unrest in the country. And the free Sowore protesters fall under this same category.
We must get the issues in proper perspectives and counter the harmful intentions of those that are hell-bent on causing unrest in the country. The Omoyele Sowore issue is a case of an attempt to instigate the people against the constituted authorities and by extension effecting a change in government by calling for a revolution. If this is not a treasonable offense, I don’t know what else to call it unless the gang of monetarily induced protesters would feign ignorance to the consequences of calling for a revolution that would see to the overthrowing of a democratically elected government.
Let us make no mistakes; national interest should always surpass personal interest if we are desirous of making progress in this country. We must learn to call a spade and spade in the interest of the sensibilities of over 180 million Nigerians who have nowhere to call home other than here.
I also wonder how some individuals’ would think they can attempt to cause mayhem in the country and walk away scot-free. Even in civilized climes, there are consequences for our actions and inactions. Can an Omoyele Sowore go to the United States and call for a revolution and street protest if he has some reservations about the effectiveness of government? The answer is a huge no. And so, the question is why such anomaly should be tolerated in Nigeria?
That aside, when an individual is viewed as a high risk to societal peace, would it be wise to have such an individual in circulation to cause more damage? There are cases of such individuals in Nigeria that, for the sake of National interest, they must be kept outside circulation till the determination of their cases by a court of competent jurisdiction.
This, in a way, explains the case of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, as well as the founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zarzarky. You would agree with me that these individuals, as well as Omoyele Sowore, are high-risk individuals and by extension, agents of destabilization.
The law is clear on this, and this much we must come to terms with. I am quite sure that if the revolution that Omoyele Sowore had planned succeeded, the bulk of the people clamouring for his release under various nomenclatures would have been greatly affected. Again, just maybe they either by omission or commission refused to see the disservice in that revolution agenda. And just perhaps, they thought calling for violent change would do Nigeria and Nigerians any good.
My opinion has been this, and it won’t change anytime soon. There are decent ways of expressing grievances if such grievances are genuine. But to call for violence is a no and would remain one, especially in a democratic setting. The wounds of the civil war in Nigeria are still fresh in our minds, and to think someone somewhere would opt to set Nigeria once again on that dangerous path is most despicable.
So, just before we elect to crucify the secret Police, we should task our conscience to understand that an offense was committed in the first place, and that gave rise to the actions taken by the government in the overall interest of the generality of Nigerians. Some might want to argue that a court had granted him bail and he was refused bail. But what they failed to understand was that there were conditions that must be fulfilled before bail would be granted. And is it on record that his bail conditions were met and the secret Police refused to release him?
We should not be deceived by the antics of some people who are gifted in the art of spreading fake news to win public sympathy. Some also argued that the bail conditions were stringent, and my answer is: calling for violence to set the country on fire is grave enough for strict bail conditions to be issued.
I believe that the government must act decisively to serve as a deterrent to others. This is the case with Omoyele Sowore. And my advice for those that pursue public causes blinded is that they should employ objectivity and sound reason because National interest is the watchword, and no individual is bigger than the country. Nigeria cannot afford any attempt at truncating its nascent democracy. We must call a spade a spade.
*Ainoko wrote this piece from Kaduna.