Activists Clamped into Prison
Twenty four rights activists who were arrested in Osogbo on Friday, July 11 during a peaceful protest to demand the disbandment of Osun State Election Petition Tribunal were arraigned on Monday 14 July at the Magistrates Court. They were ordered to be remanded in Ilesa Prison until July 23 when the ruling on their oral application for bail will be delivered.
The activists including Waheed Lawal, the Chairman of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Osun State Chapter, who is also a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), and Debo Adeniran, Coordinator of the Campaign Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) were charged with “conspiracy”, “disturbance of public peace”, “unlawful gathering”, “seditious statements on placards”, “seditious publication”, etc.
Before their arrest, the activists had actually gone to Osun High Court to submit a petition to the National Judiciary Commission through the Chief Judge of the State against members of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal who have been allegedly compromised by an unholy alliance with the Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, whose election is being challenged.
A magazine “The News” had, on Sunday July 6, exposed the unethical romance between the governor’s lawyer, Kunle Kalejaye and the tribunal judges. It reported unlawful telephone conversations between the judges and the governor’s lawyer, and indeed published the logs (records) of calls and SMS (text messages) between them on the Mobile Telecommunications Network. It was in fact revealed that the lawyer and judges even exchanged text messages during the actual tribunal proceedings!
The tribunal is billed to give its verdict on the petition of the Action Congress against the PDP’s governor on Tuesday July 15.
Osun State was among the states which recorded the worst instances of fierce rigging and brutal repression of the opposition during the 2007 elections. The April 2007 elections were adjudged to be the worst in the history of Nigeria, nay the world, by local and international observers.
Same state, same government
The state government, since coming to office with a stolen mandate, has been using the state apparatus of coercion, judiciary and police, to suppress opposition against its election and its anti-poor policies.
It will be recalled that three student activists, including two members of the DSM, Taiwo Hassan Soweto and Olatunde Dairo, were detained at Ilesha prison for over 4 months at the behest of the state government in connivance with the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. They are still facing trumped-up charges at the magistrate court, though now on bail.
The arrest and detention of the activists who were expressing their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly has further shown as a fraud the much-celebrated ‘rule of law’ of Yar’Adua PDP government.
We are demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the activists and the disbandment of the corrupt Election Tribunal. We are calling on Labour and pro-masses organisations to protest the jackboot mentality and despotism of Osun State government and not to be deterred from organising mass resistance – not only against the corrupt Oyinlola government in Osun State but also all the thieving capitalist governments at all levels and their anti-poor neo-liberal policies.
A flood of protests is needed to reach the authorities in Osun State demanding the unconditional release of the twenty four and demanding the implementation of the right to free speech and assembly. Such demands should also be sent to the office of the president, Yar’Adua, himself fraudulently ‘elected’ and visiting Britain this week.
(See previous articles on socialistworld.net and also Statement of the CDWR on the arrests last Friday on: www.nigeriasolidarity.org)
Please send protests to
- The Osun State Governor: firstname.lastname@example.org
- National Judicial Commission, via Supreme Court of Nigeria: Fax: 234 9 234 6717
- Federal Ministry of Justice: Fax: 234 9 523 5194 and to
- Your local Nigerian Embassy or High Commission
- Democratic Socialist Movement
- CDWR in Nigeria