The European Union (EU) yesterday said it was closely following recent developments in the case involving the publisher of Sahara Reporter, Omoleye Sowore and the Federal Government.
EU Ambassador, Ketil Karlsen, stated this in Abuja at an event to mark the International Human Rights Day and the grand finale of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.
The envoy noted: “As always, it is not for the EU to interfere in the judicial processes of countries where we operate but it goes without saying that we are following up very closely and we are hoping that there will be due process and the justice system will play its role as it is supposed to with full transparency which is necessary in any democracy.”
According to Karlsen, the bloc “stands very firm on the principle of freedom of speech and fundamental values as laid down in the universal declaration of human rights in the European convention of human rights.”
He submitted that in any democratic society, people must be allowed to participate as long as they seek peaceful means to voice their opinions.
Insisting that this was a crucial component of democracy, he added: “So, as a matter of principle, it is important that when somebody is detained, there is a due process that the justice system provides.”
On gender-based violence, the ambassador noted that the struggle could not be left for the international community alone, calling on government at all levels to show political will and prioritise the struggle.
However, the Executive Director of African Centre for Peace and Development, Senator Shehu Sani, has called on government to respect the constitution and the rule of law in all its dealings.
“Our human rights record as a nation presently is appalling, repugnant and odious,” he stated
The lawmaker described Nigeria as a “graveyard for human rights and a mortuary for rule of law.”
He added: “We cannot aspire to be a moral power in Africa and the world when the pages of the books of our laws and our constitution are used as toilet rolls and sanitary pads.”
Also yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) urged Nigerians to walk towards achieving a functional civil society community.
It also called for the decentralisation of the police to free it from the stronghold of the executive arm of government.
Its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko at a press conference in Abuja, stated that the civil society community “is not just about the CSOs, but about every individual asking the right questions and holding the government accountable all the times.” He added that democracy was as good as dead if Nigerians could not ask questions.