Our attention has been drawn to media reports over the re-arrest of Bayelsa state based journalist, Mr. Jones Abiri, by masked men suspected to be DSS operatives, over the weekend, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state. It will be recalled that Mr. Abiri was, just last year released following an inhuman ordeal of arrest without charge for two years in DSS custody.
We condemn, without reservation, the manner in which he was re-arrested as though he was being kidnapped without any hint to family members or associates who might want to know of his whereabouts. We hope that those who snatched this man –who, under our laws, is presumed innocent of whatever crimes the government may accuse him of – are aware of and alive to their responsibility of ensuring his safety and ensuring his fundamental human rights of access to his family and legal representation are not trampled upon under any guise whatsoever.
The way and manner our law enforcement officers, at an increasingly alarming rate, carry on as though they are a law unto themselves is unacceptable and ought to engage the citizens of our country. As a country we cannot make any significant progress, if we insist on treating human rights as a matter of convenience rather than a fundamental necessity that must be the basis for our relations and engagement as a people.
We demand that Mr. Abiri be charged to a court of competent jurisdiction if he is suspected to be involved in any crime. We demand that the federal government and indeed the Bayelsa state government speak up against the manner at which Mr Abiri has been treated. Government must commit to amend the rule of engagement for security agencies, to give law enforcement a more human face, making it more about promoting justice and ensuring that all Nigerians are able to go about their lawful businesses without fear of harassment. This SING Foundation wishes to go on the record as saying that Rule of law is a fundamental component of development and not an ideal that nations cannot attain.