A coalition of civil society organizations, community based organizations and pro democracy organizations have condemned in strong terms the invasion of the Maitama residence of Bayelsa State monarch, King A.J Turner, by operatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
The coalition said it fears that the country is gradually sliding into a dictatorship.
Addressing a press briefing, National Coordinator of the coalition, Abubabakar Abubakar esq said it is worried that security and anti-corruption agencies are being unleashed as attack dogs to hound down anyone or group perceived to be in opposition to the government
He said though, it is in support of the current administration’s anti-corrupt measures which are genuinely aimed at recovery of stolen funds, but stressed that Indicted persons must also be treated with their fundamental human right constantly considered.
He said, “Having said this, we must express our worries about the way security agencies and anti-corruption agencies are being unleashed as attack dogs to hound down anyone or group perceived to be in opposition to the government. It possibly would have been considerable to maintain some air of indifference if those on the receiving end were active politicians only, but an ugly dimension has now been introduced into the on-going purge and campaign of intimidation that has now been extended to include those who decline to openly come out in support of the party that runs the government of the day.”
He said the raid on Turner’s residence is an attack on traditional institution in the country.
“The alarm bell first went off for us when non-political public office holders started making the list of targets of intimidation by security operatives. Had we raised this alarm at that point, it might have been termed premature. Now it has got to a panic mode as even traditional rulers, who are neutral by virtue of their position, are now being harassed on account that they did not align with the ruling party.
The raid of the Maitama residence of Bayelsa State monarch, King A.J Turner, by operatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), falls into this latter category.”
He said the invasion of the residence of the monarch has nothing to do corruption investigation, but because of his insistence on playing the role of a royal father by sensitizing Bayelsans on the need to exercise their voting rights in peaceful manner during the recent Governorship elections in Bayelsa.
Abubakar said, “In the strongest terms, we condemn this attack on King Turner as an attack on the freedom of all Nigerians. We equally condemned the tendency for the secret police to protect members of the ruling party alone while deriving sadistic pleasure from harassing those who have refused to compromise their beliefs and jump ship.
“We are calling on the international community to take the recent events in Nigeria as early warning that democracy in Nigeria is on trial. Only a timely international intervention can save the situation if the democratic progress made in the West Africa region is not to be rolled back. The fight against corruption has been covertly transmuted into a war on democracy and personal freedom.
We use this opportunity to call on all other traditional rulers that maintained neutrality during the general election to speak out in condemnation of this act of aggression. It is a matter of time before the secret police come for them too on trumped up charges since they too refused to be politically biased during electioneering.
“The government is hereby put on notice that we will soon embark on civil action for democracy since repeated attempts to call attention to this growing dictatorship has been ignored. Nigerians can simply not live under this police state. This is not the democracy we fought for.”