Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Sunday described the arrest of human rights activists Omoyele Sowore as a “terrorist midnight arrest.”
Naija News had reported earlier that Sowore, a pro-democracy activist posted a tweet on his arrest at 1:25 am on Saturday, August 3.
Narrating his arrest in a social media post, Sowore’s driver, who refused to disclose his identity, said his principal was picked up in a “Gestapo manner” by the DSS.
According to the driver, “At around past 1 am, the armed men knocked on the door. I noticed immediately that these knocks were strange. And didn’t open. I looked and I saw men armed to the teeth,” he wrote.
“They started forcing their way in like armed robbers. But I knew they were DSS men, knowing fully well the attention RevolutionNow has garnered. Sowore wanted to open at first but I immediately told him who they are. He retreated and like magic, he was not in the room when they forced their way in- 8 of them.
“That was when he managed to tweet. By this time, I had been beaten and handcuffed. Phones were snatched from me. An order to block all exits came from the leader when Sowore was not found inside. He was later arrested at the gym in a Gestapomanner and dragged after a bit altercation.”
In a statement titled: “Surely, Not Again!!!”, Wole Soyinka stated that Sowore’s arrest is a travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.
The statement read in part: “Nothing that he said to me in private engagement ever remotely approached an intent to destabilise governance or bypass the normal democratic means of changing a government.
“I, therefore, find the reasons given by the Inspector-General for the arrest and detention of this young ex-presidential candidate totally contrived and untenable, unsupported by any shred of evidence.
“His arrest is a travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.
“This is all so sadly déjà vu. How often must we go through this wearisome cycle?
“We underwent identical cynical contrivances under the late, unlamented Sani Abacha when he sent storm-troopers to disrupt a planning session for a similar across-nation march at Tai Solarin School, Ikenne.
“This was followed up by a personalised letter that was hand-delivered by the State Security Services to me under their summons, at their Abeokuta so-called ‘Annexe,’ with near-identical wording to the threats contained in today’s release from the desk of the Chief of Police.
“At least, I was summoned, not subjected to a terrorist midnight arrest. Some irony!
“The same pattern Pavlovian conduct manifested itself under yet another supposed democratic ruler who personally declared that the gathering of civilians to deliberate on and propose a constitution for the nation was ‘high treason’, and would be resisted by the full rigour of state power if we persisted.
“The Inspector-General of Police mobilized his forces and issued inflammatory proclamations, but PRONACO went ahead despite all the thundering from Aso citadel. Can the police ever learn anything also their tear-gassing and brutalizing of grieving mothers who marched peacefully to protest the deaths of their children in a plane crash inferno?
“Their mission, under that same regime, which was simply to deliver a letter to the government house in Lagos, demanding greater safety in airline operations, yet such a rational intent, born of traumatic circumstances, was quashed on the sidewalks of a supposed twentieth-century nation.
“And yet again, even a faceless cabal under yet another civilian regime refused to be left out of the insensate play of power. A march on Aso Rock calling for an end to governance by a ghostly entity was slated to be crushed, but fortunately, a conflicting balance of interests decided in favour of a reduced trajectory of protest.
“And so on and on and on, in a nation which continues to speak at once through both sides of the mouth, spewing out the same Treason monotone, as if this was a magic incantation that could substitute for the venting of mass feelings, even as collective therapy.”
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