Nigerian Government At War With Free Speech By Obinna Ezechukwu

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The shocking arrest and detention of Ayoola Babalola in Ibara Prison over his publications on a campus newspaper in which he is the editor, is only a testament to the obvious and audible fact that the Nigerian Government has declared war against freedom of expression and thought in Nigeria despite the fact that the constitution already empowers every citizen to express themselves freely.

With these kind of outcome, one need not ask to know that Nigeria do not have a government. We have people empowered to protect and safeguard Nigerians and the law but they go ultra vire that purpose and repress the voice of Nigerians.

Ayoola Babalola’s article only asked about the petition given to EFCC, if they would investigate Bola Tinubu for money laundering. Tinubu’s house is not a bank, so why will he use two bullion vans to bring money home days to an election? It is embarrassing at a time that one of their spokespersons tried to cover it up by claiming that the bullion van may be carrying papers, and then we ask, when did we start using bullion vans to carry papers, and if the papers were classified as security sensitive.

None the less, the same Tinubu came out openly to tell Nigerians to mind their business, that it is his money and not theirs.  On this note, Ayoola Babalola asked if the EFCC will do their job and investigate the incident.

Babalola published other articles about how Muhammadu Buhari do not believe in Nigeria, which is evident in the way the old man prefers to go outside the country to treat himself. The same old man tells Nigerians to patronise domestic goods and services. Is there any further meaning to hypocrisy than this?

Babalola also published an article asking the University of Lagos to apologise to student activist, Femi Adeyeye, after he was suspended by the school for writing an article exposing many dirty dealings about the school management and lecturers. Years after he was expelled, many of the things he revealed in the article were found to be true. At such point, it is only honourable for a supposedly intellectual institution to apologise and recall the student but they have proved unapologetic and unrepentant in their action.

He further published an article about human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, and his unjust treatment by the Nigerian Government. After all this, he was called by the school management of Gateway Polytechnic, who told him that they don’t like his attack on the All Progressives Congress because the school was loyal to the party.

On January 23, Babalola was reportedly beaten by some sponsored student cultists and arrested by the SSS, which showed a collaboration between the security agency and the attackers. He was charged to court where he was denied his representative and then remanded in prison.

These are tough times in Nigeria for every patriotic and innocent citizens. The case of Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok also victims of repression still lingers only because they dared to expose corruption in governance and speak truth to power.

As it stands, Nigeria do not have a responsible government, what the country have are bunch of lawless power-drunk politicians, who pounce on any patriotic citizen calling them to order.

Like Omoyele Sowore said in 2000, “We will no longer live in fear”.

We are sending this strong message to the Nigerian Government, “not the walls of prison, nor the sod of cemetery shall isolate us from the path of justice, truth and humanism”.

If the Nigerian Government think by putting an innocent Ayoola Babalola in prison will silence us, on this we say, kolewerk.

Obinna Ezechukwu is the Media and Publicity Coordinator of Take It Back Campus Wing

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