Global rights group, Amnesty International, has slammed the Federal Government for arresting Nastura Sharif, a man who organised a series of protests against the regime of the President, Maj.Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Spokesman for Amnesty, Isa Sanusi, said in a text message sent to The PUNCH that the government must immediately release Sharif who is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Coalition of Northern Groups.
Sanusi wrote, “Nigerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Nastura Ashir Sharif who has done nothing more than speak up in defence of people’s right to life and calling for an end of the rising insecurity across northern Nigeria.
“He was simply asking the authorities to do their job. His arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both him and others peacefully exercising freedom of assembly and expression. Protest is not a crime, it is a right. Subjecting activists to such arbitrary arrest is a violation of Nigerian and international human rights laws.”
The protesters led by Sharif had called for the resignation of Governor Aminu Masari who had admitted that the security situation had overwhelmed his government.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Operations for the protest group, Aminu Adam, said the police arrested Sharif after “the peaceful protests”.
He explained that after the protests, the Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, invited leaders of the group for an interactive session.
Adam said five members of the group, including himself and Sharif, had honoured the police invitation after which the group’s leader was detained.
The statement read in part, “The commissioner handed us to a team of policemen, headed by the officer in charge, Force Intelligence Bureau, who led us to Abuja. We drove from Katsina to Abuja with the police team in a white bus and a hilux.
“However, on getting to force headquarters in Abuja, they told us that Sharif is under arrest for the protest and they put him in detention.”
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said he was not aware of the arrest when he was contacted by our correspondent on Wednesday.
The Presidency had on Tuesday called on the youths to stop protesting, adding that it was affecting the morale of the security agents.
By Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja