Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria


REIGN OF TERROR IN OSUN STATE

Rufus Olusesan, Chairman

9 May 2007

DROP POLITICALLY MOTIVATED TRUMP-UP CHARGES!
FREE POLITICAL DETAINEES!!

Statment made at a Press Conference organised by the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) on May 9, 2007 at International Press Centre (IPC), Ogba, Lagos.

On April 14 and 21 respectively, Nigeria purportedly conducted elections for political offices at state and federal levels. Nationally and internationally, the aforementioned elections have been overwhelmingly denounced as a gargantuan farce. Therefore, this press conference is not called to begin to make an attempt at over-flogging the issue of the farcical nature of the so-called 2007 general elections.

However, the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) feels especially concerned about the plights of thousands of Nigerians across the country that have been subjected and/or are still being subjected to series of arbitrary repressive measures just so that the powers that be can hold on to power at all costs. According to local and international media estimates, during and immediately after the April 14 and 21 so-called elections, about 250 persons had their lives prematurely terminated by state security forces and thugs hired by the ruling parties, especially PDP governments at central and state levels. In addition, thousands of ordinary Nigerians and youths have been arrested and charged to court mostly on the basis of trumped-up charges by the PDP controlled state apparatus. Most unfortunately however, this dark side of the so-called 2007 general elections have not been receiving adequate and sustained media and political attention that are of course, being justifiably given to other dark sides of the entire farcical exercise.

REIGN OF TERROR IN OSUN STATE

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, the CDWR wishes therefore to flag off the campaign to expose and fight the political reign of terror being unleashed on opposition parties by the PDP controlled state apparatus with a special focus on Osun State. As we speak to the press, the police in Osun State at the instance of the PDP controlled government have charged over 400 persons to court for political related offences within a period of one week. Up till yesterday (May 8), the PDP controlled Osun State government has continued to unleash a reign of terror on its perceived opponents and supporters of the AC governorship candidate in the election. For instance, on May 7, the state police command arrested Amodu Adebiyi, Ganiyu Adekunle, Kamarudeen Sekoni, Mustapha Saibu, Akeem Morufu, Afeez Muibu, Rufai Mutiu and Alani Adeniyi, Serifatu Hammed (Mrs.), Semiu Sulaimon, Musefiu Sulaimon, Serifudeen Sulaimon, Lekan Azeez, Rashidi Azeez and Kasimu Olayemi. They have since been detained without being charged to court or granted option of bails.

Ordinarily, it is an elementary feature of rule of law that offenders be charged to court. But the sheer number of elements that have been so charged in Osun State clearly reveals a case of political repression arising from the mass rejection of the result of the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial elections, which returned Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola for a second term of office. It is on record, many working class people and youths in several major communities in Osun State spontaneously embarked on mass protests to reject INEC’s result as highly falsified. In response, the PDP controlled state apparatus unleashed a reign of terror on these same cheated and hapless citizens. In the process, some lost their lives, hundreds were brutalized, arrested and charged to court for protesting the fact that the April 14 elections in the state were massively rigged in favour of the PDP. 80% of those so far charged to court were charged with conducts likely to cause breach of public peace under section 249(d) of the Criminal Code. Yet, despite the fact that the offence under this section of the criminal code is regarded as a minor offence in legal parlance, many of the alleged offenders in the present case were either outrightly refused bail by the trial magistrates and or given almost impossible bail conditions.

One standard bail condition usually given to those lucky enough to be admitted to bail is that the prospective surety must be prepared to forfeit N50,000 (Fifty thousand naira) to the state in case the accuse jumps bail. On top of this, to afford this amount the prospective surety must be a civil servant of no less than a Grade 10 status. In a state where the civil service is everything to expect top civil servants, working under a governor whose electoral victory is the cause of protest, to come out to stand sureties for victims of the state government will be expecting an impossibility. Quite naturally therefore, many of those charged have been unable to perfect the bail conditions given to them or perfect them on time, thus needlessly eroding their democratic and constitutional rights.

To underscore the political character of most of these cases, permit us to cite the case of Commissioner of Police Vs. Seun Jayeola and Aramide Jayeola in charge No MOS/1-89/2007. In the cited case, the accused persons were charged with conduct likely to cause “a breach of peace by attempting to video voters” at Okuku Magisterial District, during the April 14 Governorship/State House of Assembly elections!

OUR DEMANDS

  1. We totally reject the political repression being perpetrated by the PDP controlled state apparatus under the guise of maintaining “law and order”.
  2. We demand total withdrawal of all trumped-up political motivated charges leveled against the supporters of the AC governorship candidate, in person of Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State and oppositions in all other states of the federation.
  3. We call on the judiciary not to allow itself to be used by temporary power holders to unjustly victimize their political opponents/rivals. In this respect, we demand on behalf of those being held in custody in relation to the aforementioned political charges to be given the most lenient bail conditions, as well as speediest trial.
  4. We call on labour, youths and all democratic minded persons, nationally and internationally, to put pressure on the Governor Oyinlola PDP government in Osun State to halt its state of siege and violence with which it has enveloped the state since the April 14 governorship elections.
  5. We reject in totality the purported Administrative Tribunal, composed of government officials, set up by the Osun State government to probe the alleged violence, which followed the PDP’s electoral robbery on April 14, 2007.

For us, this is no more than a sickening scenario wherein armed robbers constitute a tribunal to probe the resistance of their victims. Consequently, the CDWR hereby announces the formation of a five person Independent Panel to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the political violence aftermath April 14 Governorship/House of Assembly election in Osun State.

The panel is composed of 1 - Bishop S. O. B Ojumu, African Church Diocese Ilesha; 2 - Prof. Rasak Abubakar, Department of Arabic University of Ilorin, Ilorin; 3 - Prof. Funmilayo Adekanye, Abuja; 4 - Barrister Gbenga Awosode President, Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and 5 - Babatunde Oluajo, CDWR and a leading human rights activist.

The panel has a period of one month after its inauguration within which to carry out its assignment in the above respect and make its findings public.