Nigeria: Release Dr. Dipo Fashina, Abiodun Aremu, Hassan Taiwo Soweto and 2 others now!

Over five activists have been arrested and are being brutalized by the Lagos State Police Command

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Nigeria condemns in absolute terms the barbaric and irresponsible action of the Lagos State government and the Lagos State Police Command over the arrest and repression of activists who are campaigning and organizing opposition to the anti-people and retrogressive traffic law of the Fashola/ACN-led Lagos State government. This policy is meant to deny tens of thousands of Nigerians, especially commercial motorcycle riders/operators, their means of livelihood, with the banning of their operation in various locations across the state.

As we are writing these lines, five activists have been arrested and are being brutalized by the Lagos State Police Command. These activists include Dr. Dipo Fashina, former President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and current chairman of Joint Action Front (JAF); Comrade Abiodun Aremu, national secretary of JAF; Hassan Taiwo Soweto, national coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and a member of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM); Segun Oladunni and Oloyede Usman, both youth activists. It was even incredible that the activists were arrested in their car after the peaceful protest rally had ended. They are currently being held at the Lagos State Police Commissioner’s office.

We in the CDWR see this action as another manifestation of the anti-poor and undemocratic character of the Fashola government and ACN as a political party. This action again reminds us of the dark era of military absolutism, where might is right. Every Nigerian has the fundamental rights to express his/her view and grievances against government policies in a civil manner. These activists have not committed any violence that should have warranted their brutalization. For a government that claims to emerge from the people to launch violent attacks on citizens for expressing their civil opposition to the unpopular policy shows its unpopularity and anti-democratic character. This is what Fashola regime represents.

We call on all well meaning Nigerians to join the call for the immediate release of and public apologies to these activists. More than this, we call for continuous opposition to this anti-poor policy of Fashola/ACN government in Lagos that wants to criminalize legitimate business of commercial Okada riding without providing viable and reasonable alternatives. For us, if governments at all level, especially the Fashola government, are sincere, they should provide massive jobs for teeming Nigerians who are forced into this business in the first instance. We in CDWR shall commence mass action and others legitimate activities against the Fashola government and the Police, if these activists are not released in less than 24 hours.

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December 2012