The European Union (EU) ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, said yesterday that the organisation “stands firm on the principles of freedom of speech,” noting: “It is important in any democratic society for people to be able to participate.”
The declaration followed the granting of a prayer by the Department of State Services (DSS), which had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking to detain Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the last general elections, for 45 days.
Sowore, the founder of Sahara Reporters, has been in DSS custody following his arrest last Saturday over a call for mass action against alleged misgovernance by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The DSS yesterday had sought an ex parte order in a motion (FHC/ABJ/CS/ 915/19) to hold the convener of #RevolutionNow, for an additional 90 days, pending the conclusion of its investigation.
Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, however, granted 45 days, ruling that if the applicant requires more time thereafter, it could apply for a renewal.
This came after the judge had seen the evidence attached to the application of the DSS, one of which includes the video of an alleged conference between the respondent and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and further evidence that members of the recently proscribed Shiites group, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), would have joined in the mass action.
In a statement in Abuja, Karlsen said: “I am not aware of any petition following the latest events in Nigeria but what I can say is that as long as people seek peaceful means to demonstrate and voice their political opinion, this is what we see as a natural part of a thriving democracy.”
“Any democracy or any society in the world must jealously guard and make sure that such pronouncements are always non-violent and that they respect the fundamental rules of the game and democracy at the end of the day.”
Karlsen further clarified: “It is for the Nigerian justice system, in the end, to follow up on specific cases. And as long as these cases are being dealt with in the Nigerian justice system, it is not for the EU or the EU ambassador to judge what is right or wrong on these occasions.
“But of course, we always follow very carefully when there are dissenting voices in the countries where we operate and we listen very carefully to all of them.”
•Excerpted from a report by The Guardian.
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