The Presidency has responded to Punch News Papers Editorial.
The National paper had called Buhari Major General and his administration a regime due to his attack on journalists and lawlessness.
The Department of States Services DSS has on several occassions, and with the backing of the Presidency, disobeyed court orders.
Several politically motivated prisoners: El-Zakzaky, Sambo Dasuki, Omoyele Sowore and many journalists have remained in prison despite court directives to release them.
The views was in the editorial titled “Buhari’s lawlessness: our stand” published on Wednesday morning.
Punch said “This situation is eerily familiar: as military head of state, Buhari’s appointee who headed the National Security Organisation, as the SSS was then known, Lawal Rafindadi, unleashed a reign of terror on Nigerians, featuring arbitrary arrests and torture in cells described by inmates as chambers of horror. Under the infamous Decree 2, agents had pre-signed detention papers, court orders were ignored and ouster clauses were inserted in decrees, while the press was specifically targeted with the infamous Decree 4 under which Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor were jailed.
Returning as an elected president, Buhari has followed the same template, appointing Lawal Daura as Director-General of the SSS, who re-enacted the Rafindadi playbook by his treatment of Dasuki and el-Zakzakky, among others, raided the homes of judges and twice deployed armed SSS heavies to foil the arrest of two former security chiefs by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Nigerian Navy authorities similarly ignored court orders to release Navy Captain Dada Labinjo, who they detained for over a year until his recent release on bail; Nigerian Army too detains suspects interminably on the grounds of being terrorism suspects.
The regime’s repression cannot succeed but will further polarise the society and weaken national cohesion. The Nigerian Bar Association has vowed to defend the sanctity of judicial authority, while Soyinka has warned that disregard for court orders could beget desperation and civil disobedience. Nigerians need to stop their supine acquiescence to oppression and learn to stand up for their rights as many are doing around the world, using all peaceful and legal means, including the right to protest and of peaceful assembly. It is Dasuki, el-Zakzakky, Sowore and others today, who knows who is next if repression is not resisted?
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.“
Responding, the Presidency through his spokesman, Femi Adesina said General Muhammadu Buhari earned his military title and if the President was addressed as such, it is not far from the truth.
Adesina also said for the paper to have the audacity to name the President also buttress the President’s stand on the press freedom.
“If you decide to call him Major General, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it. So, you are not completely out of order. The fact that you can do so is even another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria.”