Bashir Tofa, Amnesty International Want Arrested Katsina Activist Freed

Bashir Tofa, Amnesty International Want Arrested Katsina Activist Freed

…Detention Utterly Wrong, Undemocratic, Unjust, Bad Example of Intolerance …Freedom of Assembly is a Fundamental Human Right of the Citizenry …Protest Was a Breach of Covid-19 Protocol Prohibiting Large Gathering–Police Popular Kano Politician, Mr Bashir Othman Tofa and leading rights group, Amnesty International have strongly condemned the arrest and detention of Mr Nasturah Ashir Sheriff,

…Detention Utterly Wrong, Undemocratic, Unjust, Bad Example of Intolerance

…Freedom of Assembly is a Fundamental Human Right of the Citizenry

…Protest Was a Breach of Covid-19 Protocol Prohibiting Large Gathering–Police

Popular Kano Politician, Mr Bashir Othman Tofa and leading rights group, Amnesty International have strongly condemned the arrest and detention of Mr Nasturah Ashir Sheriff, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Coalition of Northern Youth (CNY) over the recent protest in Katsina against rising insecurity and banditary in the north.

Tofa, who ran against acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Mr Kashimawo Moshood Abiola, says, “The arrest and detention of Alhaji Nasturah Ashir Sheriff, the leader of the Coalition of Northern Youth, is utterly wrong, undemocratic and a very bad example of intolerance.

“It is unwise and unjust. Not even during sensible and caring Military Rules, would citizens demonstrate peacefully about a matter that worries the entire country, and anyone be arrested.” He noted.

Tofa, who contested the 1993 election, perceived as the nation’s freest, on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), was particularly livid: “Is this a notice that nobody is allowed to say anything or to express a view, even peacefully? Is this the Democracy Nigeria is showing to the world? We hope not.

“I appeal to the President to immediately order the release of this young man with an apology, before a single match ignites the forest and conflagrate the entire North and eventually the country.

“So many people are angry about so many things. If this collective anger is tickled and pushed by a few who may have started some illegal action somewhere, it will easily spread. The 2011 violence, destruction and death that occurred when it was rumoured that Gen. Muhammad Buhari was denied his victory will be a child’s play this time around.

“Nigerians are very angry! Insecurity everywhere, poverty, joblessness and now Covid-19, disease, despair and desperation have eaten deep into people’s patience and good sense. And for the Police or the Security Services to arrest anyone for peaceful demonstration, is not only illegal but, probably, a deliberate attempt to dishonour this Government and cause more hatred against it.

“Just today (Wednesday, June17), because of Nasturah’s uncalled for arrest, I have the nasty and angry, often abusive words, uttered against the President by hitherto his supporters. President Buhari should be very careful. He should begin to know and appreciate his true and sincere friends, and get rid of his enemies, who do tremendous harm to his image and his own future well being and safety.

“He must remember that in three years, someone else will be President. I, and millions of other Nigerians, condemn the arrest of Nasturah Sheriff and other Nigerians who were either killed or injured simply because they came out to demonstrate and make their views known in a peaceful manner. We demand Nasturah’s immediate release, and all those in detention for such purposes. We are in a Democracy,” Tofa said.

Also slamming the Federal Government for Shariff’s arrest, Spokesman of Amnesty International, Mr Isa Sanusi, urged the government to release him.

Earlier in a statement yesterday, Mr Aminu Adam, the director of operations of the coalition, had said the Police arrested Shariff after the Tuesday’s “peaceful protest.”

Sanusi stated: “Nigerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Nastura Ashir Shariff who has done nothing more than speak up in defence of people’s right to life and calling for an end of the rising insecurity across northern Nigeria. “He was simply asking the authorities to do their job.”

A Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Wednesday, also condemned the arrest of Shariff by the Police, demanding his immediate release.

In a statement signed by the Convener, CN, Mr Deji Adeyanju, the group accused President Buhari of “arresting critics who criticized his alleged inability to deal with armed bandits who have been unleashing terror on innocent and helpless people in their villages.”  

According to Adeyanju, “the Federal government and the Police have been intolerant of dissents who have constitutional rights to express their feelings and hold government officials accountable when they fail in their constitutional responsibilities.”

Shariff was arrested on Tuesday, by the Police over a protest against rising attacks and killings by armed bandits in Katsina State and the entire North. The protesters called on the Governor of Katsina State, Mr Aminu Bello Masari and President Buhari to resign over their inability to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians in the North.

The statement reads in part: “We are greatly worried that the President is arresting critics of his sheer incompetence in the handling of security situations in the North instead of the bandits killing Nigerians.

“The President should arrest the bandits and not patriotic citizens speaking up against the gross incompetence of the government. A government that negotiates and begs bandits cannot be arresting critics.

“The President needs to show leadership and stop arresting those criticizing him. We are in a democracy and this system of government gives the citizens the right and freedom to hold elected public officials accountable.

“If the President can’t tolerate dissents, then, he should be courageous enough to resign. Freedom of assembly is one of the most fundamental rights of the citizens in a democracy.  

“We are solidly behind Nastura Sheriff and we call on the Nigerian government to release him immediately from detention.

“All the energy being expended by the Police in arresting Mr. Nastura Sheriff and other Concerned Nigerians who protested on Tuesday in Katsina should be channelled into taming the monstrous bandits terrorizing the people of Katsina and other parts of North.”

Adeyanju also pointed out that, the primary responsibility of any government is the security of lives and property of its citizens, which he alleged that “President Buhari and Governor Masari have greatly failed.”

Shariff was arrested and moved to Abuja shortly after the peaceful protests in Katsina State demanding action from government over the rising spate of killings and kidnappings by bandits in the region. He’s currently being detained at the Police Headquarters in Abuja.

A member of the coalition, who confirmed his arrest to SaharaReporters on Wednesday, hailed Shariff for his courage and determination to see peace return to Katsina.

He said, “Shariff, in my interactions with you, you’ve shown uncommon courage about the many issues facing Nigeria particularly Northern Nigeria.

“It is my hope that the authorities recognise the right to protest is guaranteed under our laws and constitution.

“The truth remains immutable. The approach towards solving the structural issues affecting the North cannot be bearish. It must transcend pettiness and be bullish in all its ramifications.

“We are with you in prayers Shariff.”

Scores of individuals have been killed by bandits across most parts of Katsina in recent weeks, rendering hundreds of families homeless, leading many to resort to begging for food and water for survival.

Earlier this week, Governor Masari, apologised to the people of Katsina for failing to protect them against bandits that have made their lives a living hell.

Hundreds of youth across Katsina State on Tuesday converged on Katsina town to protest the killings and wanton destruction by gunmen in their respective localities.

The peaceful protest, convened by Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) and Citizens Participation Against Corruption Initiative, was flagged off at Kofar Soro and concluded at the old Government House, Katsina.

The Convener,  Mr Jamilu Charanci, said the protest was meant to express dissatisfaction over the government’s failure to deliver on its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of its citizens.

He said the government has also failed to defend and protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria as more gunmen are invading from other neighbouring countries and launching attacks in Nigeria.

Mr Charanci said the protest was part of their constitutional rights to demand action from their representatives to bring an end to the security situation across the North.

Katsina State is the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Earlier, Shariff, said the protest will hold across northern states on Saturday to demand for improved security and an end to the killings, kidnapping and wanton destruction of properties across the North.

He said the peaceful protest is also a renewed call to let go the heads of Nigerian security service chiefs because their hold onto power has degenerated to more blood baths and security breaches across the north.

The National Assembly had recommended the removal of the service chiefs over their failure to protect the lives of Nigerians. However, the President insisted on working with them despite the failure, the youth leader said.

“Enough is enough, a cogent step has to be taken to halt the atrocities that have gripped the northern states. For about eleven years the north has known no peace,” Mr Shareef said.

“We’re no longer convinced on the President’s directives on security issues and press releases condemning attacks because he has been doing so for so long, but nothing has changed. What we need now is to stop the massacre in the north,” he added.

The Police command in Katsina said the protest is illegal as the protesters did not get the permission of the command before embarking on the protest.

The Police commissioner, Mr Sanusi Buba, while addressing the protesters said such massive gatherings have violated the COVID-19 protocol of prohibition of large gathering of persons to check the spread of the virus.

He said the Police will not tolerate that because criminal minded persons can utilise the opportunity to infiltrate the gathering and carry out criminal activities.

Mr Buba, however, said the command on Monday, paraded 50 arrested armed bandits and placed a N5 million bounties on Adamu Aleiro, a suspected mastermind of recent attacks in Kadisau community in Faskari Local Government Area.

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