A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has called on Nigerians, civil society organisations, and non-governmental organisations to boycott any event organised by the government in celebration of June 12 Democracy Day.
President Muhammadu Buhari moved Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 every year, to honour Moshood Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
Mr Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said it would be “hypocritical of the government to claim to celebrate the ideals of the June 12 mandate, when the same government is in gross violation of the freedom of expression by people it claims to govern.”
Making reference to the ban of Twitter and the unwarranted censorship of media organisations by the Nigerian government, the lawyer said the acts contravene the ideals of democracy.
“June 12 represents total freedom, the free expression of the will of the people, justice, equality and respect for human rights.
“We cannot continue to live in a nation where the exercise of the fundamental and constitutional rights of citizens depends on the personal idiosyncrasies of those in power, where the institutions of State are deployed whimsically, to settle personal grievances, as President Buhari is doing in respect of his personal dispute with Twitter, for which all Nigerians are now subjected to forced solidarity”, Mr Adegboruwa said.
The lawyer called on Nigerians to isolate themselves from government activities by boycotting all programmes and events scheduled for June 12 celebration.
Nigerian youth and organised groups across Nigeria had disclosed intentions to hold peaceful rallies and protests against bad governance, insecurity and other societal ills.
The protests are scheduled to hold in almost all the states of Nigeria.
Defend lives and human rights
In another statement, the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) called on Nigerians to arise and defend human rights which are the tenets of democracy using the June 12democracy day.
The group said following the controversial death of Mr Abiola in military detention and the eventual return to civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria has suffered gross violations of human rights and other vices.
“Unfortunately, since 1999, a very venal and criminal-minded class of politicians has seized Nigerians by the jugular, subjecting the country to an unprecedented regime of looting of public resources, destruction of public services especially education, healthcare, potable water and electricity while they literally stole national assets and companies worth trillions of dollars in bogus ‘privatization’ exercises.
“June 12 today is a clarion call for us to all rise up and restate the reasons why we and our fathers and mothers fought for democracy,” CORE said in the statement.
The group added that the insecurities and unrest rocking different parts of the country are results of use of bandits and armed criminals by politicians to rig elections.
“After the elections, the armed bandits become terror on the rest of society. This results in terrible insecurity all over the country while farmers are terrorized to abandon the farms. Prices of food have skyrocketed while mass unemployment of young people is rife.”
The group urged Nigerians to fight for their rights and reject all forms of oppression and suppression.
“We call on all Nigerians to resist the Buhari government descent to totalitarianism marked by the vicious mass killing of peaceful protesters during the Endsars Protests and the recent ban on Twitters and the regime’s quest to restrict free speech.
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“We call on all Nigerians to also learn from our history and resist moneybag politicians. They serve themselves and not the 99% of the masses. We must kick them out and throw off the burden of their exploitative system that threatens to destroy the poor working people, ” the group said.
CORE demanded that as Nigeria marks democracy day, there should be increased funding of basic public goods especially education, healthcare, potable water supply and electricity.
The group also demanded a more “concerted war on the bandits armed by politicians causing mayhem all over the country,” adding that communities should be encouraged to arm and protect themselves from the bandits.