Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Release Aruleba and Durojaiye Now!*

National Conscience Party
Lagos State Chapter

Release Aruleba and Durojaiye Now!*

No to Attack on Freedom of Speech and the Civilian Dictatorship!

The National Conscience Party (NCP) Lagos State Chapter totally condemns the unjust detention and illegal trial of two journalists: Gbenga Aruleba of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Rotimi Durojaiye of the Daily Independent Newspapers, and demands their immediate and unconditional release.

The two journalists were arrested and later arraigned at an Abuja Federal High Court for allegedly committing “a seditious act against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and or the government of the Federation.” Justice Babs Kuewumi denied them bail and ordered them to be remanded in the State Security Service detention camp.

The actual offence of the journalists was their affront to question the airworthiness and cost of the Presidential jet, which broke down just three weeks after it was purchased.

The arraignment of the journalists for the offence of sedition which the Supreme Court has been declared not only unconstitutional but also a colonial law smacks of desperation of Obasanjo government to clampdown on freedom of speech. It is also borne out of the deep-seated zero tolerance of the government to any opposition to its actions or inactions.

Earlier in the month, the government removed Bukhari Bello as the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission for condemning the arrest and detention of Aruleba on June 14, 2006 and the general attack unleashed on the press by the government.

It could also be recalled that recently the AIT Abuja premises was invaded by the storm troopers of the regime for airing an anti-Third Term documentary. The master tape of documentary was seized.

Remarkably, Obasanjo government has turned the judiciary, whose judgement unfavourable to it is always treated with resounding contempt, to an instrument of repression and intimidation of any opposition to the regime. For instance, it has once obtained a black-market order from a Federal High Court that unconstitutionally declared a Nigeria Labour Congress led mass strike and protest against hike in fuel price illegal. The refusal Justice Kuewumi to grant Aruleba and Durojaiye bail for a bailable offence could also be seen in the same light.

This dastardly and despotic action of the anti-poor Obasanjo government, which is reminiscent of the dark era of military absolutism, is an omen of what awaits the oppositions to the PDP resolve to impose of Obasanjo’s clones in power in 2007.

The NCP Lagos State Chapter calls the labour, media and pro-masses organisations to challenge the arrest of the journalists and the dictatorial tendency of the vindictive Obasanjo government both legally and politically.

Segun Sango
Chairman, Lagos NCP

*The Statement had been issued to the Press before the journalists were granted bail.