Human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, has called on the international community to sanction Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, over the continued detention of a journalist, Mr Luka Binniyat.
Binniyat is also the spokesperson for Southern Kaduna Peoples Union.
Sowore also called on the Kaduna governor to order the release of the journalist as matter of urgency and necessity.
He made the call on Saturday in Abuja during a press conference organised by Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and civil society organisations
over the continued detention and persecution of the journalist.
Sowore said it had become official policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime to do everything to silence, victimise and frustrate journalists and activists opposed to terrorism in Nigeria.
He said Governor el-Rufai had a penchant for gagging citizens and journalists, who cross his path or have critical view of his administration.
Sowore said, “It is known that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, is one of the most intolerant governors when it comes to free speech in Nigeria.
“It is important not just to call on international community to sanction Nigeria but in particular I want to call for sanction of el-rufai as violator of free speech.
“I know for a fact that el-Rufai cannot travel to too many decent countries around the world anymore. I am aware he has been banned from entering the United States. But I think it is time he is banned from entry into any country around the world that have respect for fundamental rights particularly press freedom.
“I want to call on the Committee for the Protection of Journalists to declare el-Rufai one of the major violators of media freedom around the world.”
The activist added that there was no end in sight for attacks on journalists and violation of press freedom until individuals were held accountable for their atrocities and ignoble behaviour towards journalists.
He added that the Kaduna governor was not only known for ordering the arrest and detention of journalists in the state but also known for filing ‘libel suits’ against them despite the fact that he was a public office holder.
Sowore explained that the governor was in the habit of manipulating and abusing courts in the state for his selfish agenda.
He added, “Not only does el-Rufai engage in bullying online but his children are also bullies. So, it is almost a psychological problem running in his family to be intolerant of posting views and I think the world should take note of this before it becomes a murderous act.
“It is dangerous because he is using official channels to mobilise criminals against these reporters.
“It is also urgent that Luka Binniyat is released immediately. Not only should he be released, but his security should be guaranteed because I am very sure that the governor of Kaduna State will use official and unofficial means to silence this particular individual.”
On his own part, National President of SOKAPU, Jonathan Asake, said Binniyat had been arrest and detained for five weeks without being granted bail.
Asake called on el-Rufai and other government officials responsible for his continued detention without trial to allow the courts to do their work and stop the persecution.
He said the journalist was arrested and charged for cyberstalking at a magistrate court that had no jurisdiction and since then he had been held despite his health challenges.
He said, “For over six years running, communities in Southern Kaduna have incessantly come under severe attacks by Fulani killer Herdsmen.
“These attackers usually invade our vulnerable and defenseless communities at odd hours unprovoked, where they mercilessly massacre the hapless villagers (mostly women and children being the greatest casualty), they maim, rape our women, destroy our properties, food stores and crops, abduct many more people into the bushes and often time occupy our lands with the government of the day doing nothing about it with no effort to bring perpetrators to justice.
“These atrocious and barbaric attacks on our communities which often times are of genocidal scale, have become the norm where presently we have over 108 identified communities have been displaced and living in dehumanising conditions as internally displaced persons without food or any social amenities like schools for the children and health care facilities.
“It is these kind of atrocities regularly meted out on our people that comrade Luka Binniyat, a journalist and true son of Southern Kaduna has refused to be silent about but committed himself to relentlessly expose them against the apparent complicit posture of the government authorities in Kaduna state which has continued to clamp down on press freedom and free speech as opposed to provisions of our national constitution.
“We are hereby calling on the government in Kaduna that are responsible for his continuous detention without trial to allow the courts to do their work and stop the persecution.
“We also call the attention of all media practitioners, the civil society and the international community to be on notice that free speech and the press are under siege in Kaduna State.”