The invasion and arrest of Premium Times’ publisher and other journalists is the latest event in the rapid slide of Nigeria into a brutal totalitarian new order. Just last week SaharaReporters’ founder Mr. Omoyele Sowore was picked up and brutalized by the Nigerian police without formal charge. These latest arrests affecting Nigeria’s top two investigative editorials is a culmination of series of arrests and the harassment of various journalists and activists across Nigeria since the Buhari regime took over power.
As the desperation and silence of the masses continues to embolden Buhari’s appointees, there appears to be a competition to show who can be more brutal and portray more disregard and disdain of the law. Following several Buhari-approved experiments by army chief Tukur Buratai, including massacres of protesting unarmed civilians in Kaduna and Onitsha and the secret burial of the victims in their hundreds, the army chief has become notably emboldened and has now extended his barbaric acerbity to the Nigerian journalistic tents. As an early victim of Buratai’s intimidation and libel, saved only by being in a foreign land, I can testify to the level of callousness Nigeria is now betrothed to.
Civilian President Muhammadu Buhari is known for his contempt not only of the court but of journalists. While he was military ruler in the 80s, Buhari unleashed Decree 4 which targeted for extermination, any media “found guilty” of publications that the government determined “is or may be detrimental to the interest of the federation or any part thereof.” The Decree also introduced trial of journalists by military tribunal with the denial of appeal. This is the mindset of Nigeria’s current president Muhammadu Buhari.
Order is threatened in Nigeria as president Buhari blatantly disobeys court orders, most recently being in contempt of a court order to immediately release northern Muslim leader Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat who have been detained without charge for over a year; and as the army and police operate imprudently, without respect for the rule of law.
Justice Yusuf Haliru described in March of last year, “the EFCC and the Army- have behaved like illiterates”, in his judgement describing their actions as “illegal, wrongful, unlawful and constituted a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the applicant”. This is the Nigeria of today, a nation that has transcended from an era of cluelessness to one of callousness. The silence of the masses continues to encourage and embolden the brazen banditry and brutality by top government appointees and legislators.
Nigeria is in God’s hands.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah