Saraki warns against persecution of perceived enemies, stifling of free speech

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Senate President Bukola Saraki has cautioned against actions that are capable of undermining the country’s democracy.

Yusuf Olaniyonu, special adviser to the senate president on media, quoted Saraki as warning against such acts in a statement on Tuesday.

Saraki said Democracy Day could not be celebrated without canvassing for caution against recent negative developments in the country’s polity.

“As we celebrate democracy today, I congratulate our people and express my conviction that this system of government is the best so far invented. However, it goes beyond the conduct of elections to put leaders in office,” the statement read.

“Democracy involves strict adherence to rule of law as against the rule of men. It is about respect for due process and following laid down procedures. It is about respect for and building of institutions. That is why we cannot be celebrating democracy day without canvassing for caution on some recent negative developments in our polity, particularly as we prepare for next year’s general elections.

“These include abuse of office in a manner that suggests persecution and oppression of perceived enemies, stifling of free expression, undermining of democratic institutions, and impunity on the part of certain persons who behave as though they are above the laws of the land.

“These developments should be of concern to all democrats. Other political and opinion leaders who decided to veil their sight as if they are not seeing these infractions on democracy and choose to keep quiet, should know that they equally pose danger to the survival of our country. History will not be fair to us if we allow our complacency to jeopardize democracy.”

The senate president said Nigerians must be able to speak up against such acts that have the capability of jeopardising the country’s democracy.

“It is important for us to quickly tackle all issues that can undermine our democracy, particularly insecurity and lack of good governance. We must immediately find solution to the security issues and ensure that we return the regime of peace, safety of lives and property in all parts of our country,” Saraki said.

“In the same way, we must do all that is necessary to deliver good governance to our people and fight corruption at all levels. These challenges must be confronted by all political leaders devoid of party loyalty, ethnicity, religion and personal preferences. We must all set aside our personal interests and work as a collective on these aforementioned issues.”

He said Nigeria set a high standard with the 2015 poll and must not perform less in 2019.

“We must therefore not do anything that will threaten the existence of the country or its peace, unity and tranquility. Let me use this occasion to urge our all our people to avoid making and circulating hate speech which can further accentuate our fault lines and set one section of the country against the other,” Saraki said.


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