Osun 2014: Don’t Arrest Opposition Leaders, MURIC Advises FG (Full Text)

The State of Osun will hold its gubernatorial election on Saturday, 9th August, 2014. Already, there are claims of massive deployment of security agents to the state. About 900 agents of the Department of State Security (SSS) were allegedly moved to the state last week alone. During his visit to the state three days ago, President Jonathan also reportedly promised to flood the state with policemen.
If past experiences are anything to go by, civil society and the general populace must take this development with a pinch of salt. It is an open secret that the ruling parties in the 60s used security agents to intimidate the opposition. Many opposition leaders were arrested and detained about 48 hours to the election to pave way for massive rigging. Those detained were not released until several days after the doctored results which were in favour of the unpopular ruling party had been released.
This open rape on democracy led to the first military coup in the country on 15th July, 1966. Similar allegations were made against the ruling party in the days preceding the 1983 general elections and it also culminated in another military coup.
As a human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is disturbed by the allegation of massive arrest of key opposition figures during the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. Equally unnerving is the police treatment of the state governor (who was allegedly teargassed), the palpable presence of soldiers and the latter’s treatment of opposition leaders, including governors from other states who belonged to the opposition.
MURIC expresses grave concern over this anti-democratic trend of a partisan military and a compromised police force. These are all the ingredients needed to inject heavy doses of unethical and unprofessional drugs into the anatomy of the security agencies. The price Nigeria will pay for this is heavy as our military may be rendered impotent in real battle situations. We may be paying the price already because this factor may have been responsible for the inability of Nigerian soldiers to overpower Boko Haram insurgents.
Whereas MURIC has a principled obligation to remain nonpartisan, it is also our duty as an integral part of civil society to watch the actions of governments and to point out their excesses. This is necessary in order to keep governments on the tiptoes of good governance.
This is the international best practices among Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs).  It is therefore needless to blackmail civil society by accusing us of nursing and exhibiting pro-opposition proclivities. Whereas politicians think only of the next election, MURIC thinks of the safety and welfare of this and coming generations.
Our regular advocacy and interventions are in consonance with the teaching of Islam concerning the relationship between the government and the citizenry. The Glorious Qur’an warns citizens not to stand aloof when things are going awry, “And fear a tumult or oppression which will not affect the wrongdoers alone…” (Qur’sn 8:25).
We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to resist the temptation to use all powers at its disposal to secure victory at all costs in the Osun gubernatorial election on Saturday 9th August, 2014. We also advise the security agencies to manifest the height of professionalism in the discharge of their duties, particularly during this coming election. We charge the electorate in Osun to be peaceful, orderly and law-abiding.
Finally, we urge civil society to stand up and be counted in the conduct of Osun 2014 polls before, during and after the election.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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