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


Press Statement: Osun Election Tribunal Scandal: Release the Detained 24 activists in Osun State Now!

Kola Ibrahim (Secretary, CDWR Osun State Chapter)

12 July 2008

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Osun State Chapter hereby condemns in absolute terms the arrest of twenty four (24) activists in the state capital, Osogbo on Friday July 11 by armed men of the Nigerian Police for expressing their constitutional right of expression. This current wave of arrests again show the banality of the so-called rule of law of the Yar’Adua/PDP government and again clearly corroborate our earlier assertion that the Oyinlola government in Osun State is nothing short of fascism.

The activists including the Chairman of CDWR, Alhaji Waheed Lawal; Debo Adeniran, Coordinator of Campaign Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) and 22 others were arrested while on a mass rally to submit a petition to the National Judicial Commission (NJC) through the Chief Justice of the State on the recent revelation about the unethical conduct and corrupt practice by judges of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Thomas Naron.

It will be recalled that a few days ago, a news magazine came out with a damning report on the terribly unethical activities of the judges of the Osun State election tribunal. One would have expected the Yar’Adua government that claims to be fighting corruption to launch immediate probe into this revelation while the judiciary should have taken immediate stand to make people believe in the judiciary by disbanding the tribunal and embarking on fact finding mission. It is this hypocritical failure of the government and the judiciary that prompted the peaceful rally and petition by activists from CACOL, CDWR and other organization. Rather than take this as a challenge to do the right thing, the Osun State judiciary in collusion with the state government and the Osun State Police Command, unleashed another round of repression on the genuine democratic voices by arresting the said activists. This action is reminiscent of the dark days of military jackboot absolutism.

This action of the police, the state government and the judiciary is a sign of moral collapse in governance. It is ridiculous that while public officers, including judicial officers who are expected to be above board, perpetrate brazen corruption are allowed to live like kings, activists who are demanding justice and sanity are thrown into the dungeons of injustice and repression. This again shows that despite the so-called emergence of civilian rule since 1999 and despite the struggle of the working and poor masses against dictatorship and for good governance, the corrupt political vampires who never contributed to the termination of military dictatorship but hijacked power through obscene means are the ones throwing the masses to gallows. That we are still witnessing a clear attack on democratic rights in this country, ably aided by the judiciary, is a sign of bad omen for the poor working masses of Nigeria.

Despite the huge resources that had accrued to the coffers of Osun State since 2003 running to over N200 billion, nothing substantial has come the way of the ordinary poor people in the state. While functional education and health care are inaccessible to the vast majority of the population as a result of lack of basic facilities, public infrastructures like roads, public housing and potable water are only dreams; yet public officials continue to live opulently at the expense of the public. This is the basis of the total rejection of the Oyinlola/PDP government by the working masses in the 2007 general election. Rather than accept the people’s verdict, Oyinlola and his PDP marauders force themselves on the masses through massive rigging and violence. The people’s expectation for justice through the judiciary was again dashed by the criminal sell out of the judges as revealed by the media report by The News magazine. Rather than arrest the corrupt politicians in the state who looted our public resources and made people impoverished, the Nigerian Police and the Judiciary are colluding with the same looters to repress genuine voices. It is disturbing that all the successive Police Commissioners posted to the state have turned themselves into yes men of the Oyinlola government.

From the foregoing, it is clear that unless the masses take their destinies in their hands, no messiah can fight for them. This is why we are calling on the working and poor people of not only Osun State, but of the whole Nigeria, to organize and reject the current crop of corrupt, self-serving capitalist politicians across board and fight for a genuine working peoples’ party that could usher in workers and poor masses’ government.

Consequently, we demand that:

  1. the detained activists must be immediately released by the police because their arrest is an attack on the fundamental rights of expression, movement and assemblage; and end to culture of repression of dissent voices.
  2. the Osun State tribunal must be disbanded and the members probed by the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and the anti-graft agencies; and if found guilty must be punished.
  3. immediate probe of the Oyinlola government by anti-graft agencies for monumental corruption.

We call on the good people of Osun State to rise against this dictatorial Oyinlola government that is neck-deep in corruption. As for us in CDWR, despite all this repression, we shall continue to organize mass action not only against the corrupt, anti-poor Oyinlola government but against all capitalist governments at all levels and their anti-poor policies that have made life more miserable for the toiling poor. We call on the labour movement in the state and Nigeria to rise to its historic role of leading the movement for a socio-economic change.

We remain undaunted.