Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR)

Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR)

Free 24 Activists in Osun Now!

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) condemn the unjust detention of twenty four (24) pro-democracy activists by the Osun State government in collusion with the judiciary and the police command, and demand their immediate release.

On Monday March 23, 2009, Magistrate Olalekan Ijiyode of the Osogbo Magistrate Court 11 arbitrarily revoked the bail of these activists, who include Waheed Lawal, the chairman of CDWR Osun State and Debo Adeniran, the Coordinator of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), and ordered them to be remanded in Ilesha Prision. The activists had been on bail since July 23 2008.

It will be recalled that these activists were first arraigned in court on July 14, 2008 for undertaking a peaceful procession to condemn the criminal hobnobbing of the members of the Justice Naron-led Osun State Election Petition Tribunal with the counsels to Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola. They were then detained for two weeks before they were granted bail and released.

Since then, there has not been any further pursuance of the case by the state prosecutors. However, consequent upon the Appeal Court, Ibadan ruling which cancelled the illegally conducted local government elections held in late 2007 – a case in which Waheed Lawal, as the Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the state is one of the plaintiffs – the state government has embarked on another round of repression of oppositions and dissent views.

The manner in which these activists were detained further betrays the treachery of the judiciary in the state. The same court, though with another magistrate, granted these activists bail on July 23, 2008. While none of the activists jumped bail or failed to appear in court, the new magistrate on no reasonable basis revoked the bail and ordered their detention! This is a sheer miscarriage of justice.

However, this is not the first time the judiciary in the state has been used to repress opposition groups. It will be recalled that immediately after the 2007 elections over 500 persons predominantly supporters of opposition parties and civil society activists were unjustly detained by the Osun State government in connivance with the state judiciary and the police command, under frivolous and trumped-up allegations – violence, bomb blast, etc.

While these 24 activists, who protested against corruption in the judiciary and commercialization of justice, are being victimized and repressed, the nation’s judiciary that claims to be the custodian of rule of law and justice has not dug deep into the allegations against the members of the Election Petition Tribunal, who were alleged to have compromised themselves. This has further shown that “rule of law” mantra of the Yar’Adua government is a ruse

The CDWR demands the immediate release of all the detained twenty-four (24) activists and end to culture of repression in the state. We call on labour and progressive organizations in the state and nationally to condemn this barbarism in Osun state and demand the immediate release of the activists.

We wish to state that the rights to freedom of association, expression and protest are surely guaranteed in the constitution and charters on human rights. We call on labour and progressive organizations to resist any attempt to deny the citizens these rights by the government and judiciary.

Victor Osakwe
National Secretary
email: [email protected]