SSS arrests Nigerian journalist for backing #RevolutionNow

SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)
SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)

A Nigerian journalist who ventilated about hardship in the country and wrote a Facebook post expressing support for the ‘RevolutionNow’ campaign has been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS).

Ibrahim Dan-Halilu, a former editor with Daily Trust, was arrested at about 2:00 a.m. on Monday in Kaduna State, according to PRNigeria, a news agency with ties to Nigeria’s security apparatus.

Mr Dan-Halilu’s arrest comes as the secret police launched a fresh crackdown on Nigerians for protesting what they consider a failure of governance.

On Saturday, heavily armed SSS operatives stormed the apartment of Yele Sowore for daring to call for a revolution in Nigeria.

Federal authorities tagged the call, which had gained popularity amongst many Nigerian, as seditious and an act of terrorism, even though the SSS had stated on the record that it had no intelligence that confirmed any violent plot by Mr Sowore.

The SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, said on Sunday that Mr Sowore’s words were all the evidence the secret police had of his purported violent revolution plots.

Mr Sowore, a social critic and publisher of Sahara Reporters, had said the country was ripe for a revolution because of decades of neglect, incompetence and unbridled plunder of the country’s scarce resources by leaders.

He called a nationwide ‘day of rage’ for August 5, urging Nigerians to take to the streets and demand a series of radical reforms.

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The arrest elicited broad anger amongst Nigerians and forced the Buhari administration on the defensive.

While critics said the government had violated the Constitution by violently taking on citizens over protected speeches and actions, the government argued that it had a responsibility to keep the public peace.

The protest held in low intensity on Monday in some parts of the country, hampered by heavy rain in Abuja and met with security forces crackdown in Lagos.

Still, the SSS continued its crackdown in connection to the planned demonstration.

PRNigeria reproduced what Mr Dan-Halilu, who was “a former staunch supporter of Mr Buhari and a communications specialist,” posted on his Facebook page before the SSS swooped on him in the middle of the night.

The post read: “I feel I should share because it resonates with me. If resonates with you too, please share until all oppressed people of Nigeria get the message and domesticate it. This is #Not the Nigeria of My Dream.

“Somebody asked me why we need a revolution now, this was my reply: The aim of the revolution is to challenge the uncommon hardship why we have 16m children on the street; challenge why we have become the poverty capital of the world; challenge why we have 20 persons with corrupt cases as federal legislators and would-be Ministers.

“We need to restructure the country. We need to put an end to trillions spent on electricity while we live in darkness and pay estimated bill for electricity and meters. Why do we have huge oil reserves but our refineries are dead and we are re-importing what we exported as crude oil? It is time to ask why those in government travel abroad for medical care when they have left our hospitals dilapidated; why they send their children to school abroad when our children learn under mango trees.

“We are revolting against the continuing killings that have left 20,000 Nigerians dead while those in office move around under state paid security and do nothing. We are revolting against the because over a thousand Nigerians soldiers killed by Boko Haram have been secretly buried without identifiable graves, dignity or honour. $16m was purportedly spent on mosquito nets but our children die daily from malaria. $320m Abacha loot was purportedly distributed to the poor. Where is the verifiable list? N500bn was purportedly distributed to the poor as so-called Trader-moni. Where is the verifiable list?

“…With divine grace, God gave us about 40 natural resources spread across the length and breadth of the country. No country on mother earth is as blessed! The persons destroying Nigeria in and out of government are less than 10,000. For how long will the 201 million of us be silent? Forever? It will be sheer stupidity and very unfair of us to be silent and bequeath today’s sorry Nigeria to our children. For how long shall we continue to endure bad leadership from certificate forgers, election riggers, ritualists and yahoo politicians, hoping upon hope for a better tomorrow when things get worse by the day? We are too rich to be poor. We are too blessed to be a mockery of the world!!! No!!!”

Mr Afunanya did not immediately return calls and text messages seeking additional details about why the SSS arrested Mr Dan-Halilu.

If was not unclear as of Monday evening whether the journalist had been allowed to contact a lawyer.

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