Despite public denial, Nigeria’s leading rights advocate and senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, is certain President Muhammadu Buhari is working towards illegally elongating his stay in office.
A pro-Buhari group recently called for an extension of the president’s tenure beyond the constitutional limit of 2023.
The Nigerian leader demurred, saying he would be retiring to Daura, his hometown, after his second term in office.
Speaking to Saturday Tribune on Friday, November 8, 2019, Falana asked Nigerians to disregard the denial, saying all moves by the president and his men point to tenure elongation ambition.
He listed the current alleged efforts at driving the opposition aground, alleged assault on free speech, crackdown on the media, including the new media as well as perceived authoritarian moves in the areas of free trade and impunity in the conduct of state matters, as known tell-tale signs of tenure elongation agenda.
Falana cited the continued incarceration of activist-politician, Omoyele Sowore, despite a valid bail order from a court of competent jurisdiction, as one of the worrying reasons, Nigerians should not delay in rising against the alleged fascism creeping on them.
“But you heard his group demanding a third term for him and the president trying to distance himself in a very unconvincing manner. I have no doubt there is a third term agenda, because dictatorship of the kind we are witnessing now, in the past, was to one end; tenure elongation.
“He (President Buhari) is trying to cow Nigerians, but no one can successfully do that. All his recent actions are geared towards that; ruling from London, closing borders, arresting opposition and jailing journalists, are meant for him, to be the only voice in the country, it won’t be.
“Burkinabes, Malians, Nigerians have called me to complain of being stranded for about two months now, because the land borders are shut. They are stranded with tons of plastic materials, bought from plastic manufactured by Nigerians, in Nigeria.
“What about petrol dealers who are registered to do legitimate business. I have their registration certificates with me here. But you suddenly came up with the 20-kilometers radius of the border policy and you grounded their legitimate business.
“I am sure you know that all auto shops in the country have been shut down, on the ground that appropriate duties have not been paid on some vehicles.
“Until the court stepped in, the army was going to subject Nigerians to the humiliation of self-identification, under their Positive Identification agenda. All these massive violations of Nigerians’ rights and threats to cow Nigerians to subjection are designed to pave way for a third time agenda.
“You can’t say you want to conquer your people, without a sinister agenda to it. Like Abacha and IBB, before now, all we are seeing now, were the same manifestations under them; jailing journalists, charging them with treasonable felony, and their agenda for doing those things, was tenure elongation.
“The only Africa country where you needed identification to move around was the apartheid South Africa, when blacks were restricted from going to certain places and entering certain places and they had to carry identification pass.
“The last time the movement of any Nigerian was restricted, was in 1962, when the likes of Obafemi Awolowo and Rotimi Williams (SAN) had their movement restricted under an emergency rule in the West, and you know what eventually happened.
“Now, there is no emergency, Sowore is restricted to Abuja, Bakare (co-accused in the treason trial) is restricted to Osogbo. A very annoying order. This is an authoritarian government, they are saying we are above the law, you don’t talk of election under such an atmosphere.
“Since on Friday, Sowore has embarked on hunger strike, because his rights are being abused. The DSS has not given any reason for not releasing him and we are preparing to drag them to court.”
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