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Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins
By Odinaka Uruakpa
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has condemned the recent re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore by offficials of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS).
Martins who made this known in a press release signed by the Acting Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev Fr. Anthony Godonu, said the re-arrest of Sowore by men of the DSS, in the same court that ordered his release, portends grave danger for democracy in Nigeria.
The Archbishop also condemned the gangster-like manner Sowore was whisked away by the DSS operatives within the hallowed Temple of Justice and before a sitting Justice, adding that this also portends grave danger for democracy in the country.
While condemning the action of the DSS, which he described as an unfortunate incident that has further dented the human rights record of the present administration, he said the act did not reflect the often repeated determination of President Muhamadu Buhari to respect the autonomy of each of the three arms of government.
Martins said the blatant disregard for the rule of law by the DSS, as well as their continuous refusal to obey court rulings, the latest being that of Sowore, was an affront on the nation’s fledgling democracy.
Said he: “I watched the scene of the arrest of Sowore on a video clip circulating on the social media with utter disbelief, and I was thoroughly saddened and disappointed when this was confirmed on regular media. I could not believe that an arm of government could be treated with so much disrespect and utter contempt.
Said Martins: “I could not believe that we have descended so low that security officials would desecrate the temple of justice in the way they did; arresting a person in the very presence of the Judge who ordered his release in the same court in which the order was given. This action is despicable and a disgrace to a country that prides itself on having enjoyed 20 uninterrupted years of democratic rule”.
He called on Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of the Federation to condemn this act, which he said was an assault on the arm of government which he (Muhammad) presides over.
Said he: “We expect the Nigerian Bar Association to take a strong stance to protest this assault. When Lawal Daura was implicated in the blockade of the National Assembly in 2018, Prof. Osinbajo who was the acting president at the time, took decisive action by terminating his appointment because of the violation of that arm of government.
“We expect President Buhari to do nothing less, as another arm of government has been violated again by the same DSS. The DSS Director should be called, and questioned because he and his organization are leaving the whole world with an impression that the Nigerian nation is steadily sliding down the path of anarchy and dictatorship”.
He advised the federal government to call the DG of the DSS to order, and get them to work in accordance with the dictates of law.
Said he: “The frequency with which the DSS has been disregarding court judgements leaves one with the impression that the judiciary has been emasculated, and this cannot be allowed in a democracy, especially, as it was not tolerated in the days of military regimes”.
As a way forward, the Archbishop urged President Buhari to take all steps necessary to ensure that the judiciary is allowed to operate freely, in accordance with the law.
He reminded the president that like the executive arm of government that he heads perform its roles, the Judicial arm of government is constitutionally empowered to ensure that law and justice subsist in the country.
While cautioning the agency, he advised the DSS to release Sowore, adding that if they had further allegations against Sowore, they (DSS) should present such in the court.
Said the cleric: “The first thing the DSS should do now is to release Sowore as the court has directed and tender an apology to the whole country for the embarrassment we all witnessed.
“Should the DSS have further allegations against him, let such be presented before the court of law so that justice can take its course. Any further arbitrary hounding of Sowore would only escalate tension and disaffection in the land”.