The presidency has released the statement below as its response to a Punch newspaper editorial which strongly criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s disrespect for the rule of law.
Punch, one of Nigeria’s most widely read newspapers, in an editorial published Wednesday highlighted some of the instances where the Buhari administration had violated court orders including in the treatment of an activist, Omoyele Sowore.
In the editorial titled ‘Buhari’s lawlessness: Our stand,’ the newspaper said it would henceforth refer to the president by his last military title when he ruled Nigeria as a military dictator.
“As a symbolic demonstration of our protest against autocracy and military-style repression, PUNCH (all our print newspapers, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, PUNCH Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially Punchng.com) will henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law,” it wrote.
The presidency in a statement by Femi Adesina described Punch’s stance as a ‘testimony of free speech’ under Mr Buhari.
Read Mr Adesina’s full statement below.
A newspaper says it will henceforth address President Muhammadu Buhari by his military rank of Major General.
Nothing untoward in it. It is a rank the President attained by dint of hard work before he retired from the Nigerian Army. And today, constitutionally, he is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
All over the world, just as in our country, a large number of retired military officers are now democrats. It does not make those who did not pass through military service better than them.
Rather than being pejorative, addressing President Buhari by his military rank is another testimony to free speech and freedom of the press, which this administration (or regime, if anyone prefers: it is a matter of semantics) has pledged to uphold and preserve.