A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), says it is no crime for any citizen to call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation.
Falana’s statement is not unconnected to the arrest of Salihu Yakasai, a former special adviser on Media to Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
State security operatives reported arrested Yakasai shortly after criticizing President Buhari on Twitter.
Reacting to the arrest, Falana condemned the action of the Department of State Services stating that there is no justification for the arrest and detention of Yakassai.
In a statement titled, ‘Asking Buhari to Resign is Not An Offence’, the rights activist noted that many politicians and activists have continued to call for Buhari resignation due to the deteriorating security situation across the country.
He further argued that in the past those who called for the resignation of former presidents did not get intimidated nor arrested.
“It is on record that the APC and its leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari; National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinibu; Malam Nasir El-rufai and Alhaji Lai Mohammed repeatedly called for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s resignation between 2013 and 2014. Yet they were never subjected to any form of intimidation for exercising their freedom of expression at the material time. Since the call for President Buhari’s resignation is likely to continue to be made by other concerned individuals and groups over the virtual collapse of the security architecture.”
Falana demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Tanko-Yankassai from illegal custody.
He however noted that if the State Security Service has evidence that the “political detainee” has committed any criminal offence known to the law, then he should be transferred to the police for proper investigation and possible prosecution.
Below is the right advocate’s full statement regarding Salihu Yakasai’s arrest.
On Friday, February 27, 2021, Mr. Salisu Tanko-Yankassai, the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state called on President Mohammadu Buhari to either guarantee the security of the Nigerian people or resign from office. Even though Mr. Tanko-Yankassai was legitimately exercising his freedom of expression enshrined in section 39 of the Constitution he was sacked by Governor Ganduje and arrested by the State Security Service. ASCAB has confirmed that Mr. Tanko- Yankassai is being held incommunicado in an undisclosed detention facility.
Having regard to the fact that civil rights advocates, retired military officers, and political party leaders including chieftains of the All Progressive Congress have repeatedly asked President Buhari to call it quits due to the worsening insecurity in the country there is no justification whatsoever for the arrest and detention of Mr. Tanko- Yankassai. In both Chambers of the national assembly there have been strident calls by legislators for President Buhari’s resignation or impeachment on the ground that criminal gangs have taken over the monopoly of violence in the country. Since such concerned citizens were never arrested the ongoing harassment of Mr. Tanko- Yankassai is high handed, discriminatory and illegal.
It is on record that the APC and its leaders including General Mohammadu Buhari; National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinibu; Malam Nasir El-rufai and Alhaji Lai Mohammed repeatedly called for former President Goodluck Jonathan’s resignation between 2013 and 2014. Yet they were never subjected to any form of intimidation for exercising their freedom of expression at the material time. Since the call for President Buhari’s resignation is likely to continue to be made by other concerned individuals and groups over the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neocolonial State it is pertinent to draw the attention of the State Security Service to the case of Arthur Nwankwo v The State 1985 6 NCLR 228 where the Court of Appeal charged the Nigerian people to engage in relentless criticism of democratically elected governments. In particular, Olajide Olatawura JCA (as he then was of blessed memory) had this to say:
“The decision of the founding fathers of the present Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticise should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided by the constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism in respect of their office so as to ensure that they are accountable to the people. They should not be made to feel that they live in an ivory tower and therefore belong to a different class. They must develop thick skins and where possible, plug their ears with wool if they feel too sensitive or irascible.”
In view of the foregoing, we demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Tanko-Yankassai from illegal custody. However, if the State Security Service has evidence that the political detainee has committed any criminal offence known to law he should be transferred to the Police for proper investigation and possible prosecution without any delay.
Femi Falana SAN,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)