HURIWA Supports Olawale Rasheed’s Fight Against Alleged DSS Harassment

HURIWA Supports Olawale Rasheed’s Fight Against Alleged DSS Harassment

The leading civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has thrown its weight behind Olawale Rasheed, the spokesperson to Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State, in his legal battle against what he perceives as harassment and threat to his fundamental human rights by the State Security Service (DSS).

In a press statement, HURIWA revealed that Rasheed had approached the Federal High Court in Osogbo seeking protection and enforcement of his rights against the DSS, the Director General of the State Security Service, the Osun State Director of the State Security, and Femi Oyetola, son of the former Governor of Osun State.

“Rasheed’s decision to seek protection through the courts underscores the urgent need to address the challenges facing journalists and media practitioners in Nigeria. His situation serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those who dare to speak truth to power in our society.

“In the suit filed on 22nd March 2024, Rasheed, a seasoned journalist, claimed that he is being maliciously targeted by members of the opposition APC, allegedly led by Femi Oyetola, in collusion with security agents, to undermine his liberties and freedoms. He asserted that these actions are politically motivated, stemming from the fallout of the last Osun Governorship election, where Governor Adeleke’s victory caused tension among opposition ranks”.

Echoing Rasheed’s sentiments, HURIWA reiterated the constitutional guarantees enshrined in Section 46 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which afford every citizen the right to seek redress against perceived violations of their fundamental rights. Additionally, HURIWA stressed the importance of safeguarding Rasheed’s rights as a spokesperson for Governor Adeleke, representing the public’s interest. The Association added that Section 22 of the Constitution recognizes the pivotal role of the media in upholding public accountability and transparency, granting journalists the freedom to hold government and its agents accountable without fear or favor.

“Rasheed contends that the orchestrated campaign against him is driven by political vendetta, with the opposition APC seeking to silence dissent and stifle accountability. The media frenzy surrounding reports of his purported invitation/arrest by the DSS, allegedly fueled by APC affiliates, further underscores the politicized nature of the situation.

“Rasheed’s claims of political persecution and harassment by the DSS resonate deeply with HURIWA. We condemn any attempt to suppress dissenting voices or intimidate journalists in the exercise of their duties. Rasheed’s steadfastness in the face of adversity is a testament to his unwavering commitment to upholding the principles of press freedom and democracy.

“The alleged orchestration of a campaign against Rasheed by members of the opposition APC, purportedly led by Femi Oyetola, is deeply troubling. HURIWA views such actions as a blatant abuse of power and an affront to the principles of democracy. We call for immediately ceasing any attempts to undermine Rasheed’s rights and freedoms.

HURIWA further called upon the DSS to exercise restraint and adhere to the rule of law in its dealings with citizens like Rasheed. The organization emphasized the importance of respecting the rights of individuals and upholding democratic principles at all times, stressing that any attempt to curtail press freedom or intimidate journalists must be unequivocally condemned and addressed.

Likewise, HURIWA informed that the case of Olawale Rasheed serves as a cautionary tale for journalists and activists across Nigeria, highlighting the need for vigilance in safeguarding constitutional rights and seeking legal recourse against any form of oppression or injustice. The association urged journalists to remain steadfast in their pursuit of truth and justice, knowing that they have the support of the broader human rights community.

“Nigeria’s vibrant media landscape is a cornerstone of democracy, providing a platform for diverse voices and perspectives. Any attempt to undermine press freedom threatens the fabric of our democratic society and must be vigorously opposed by all stakeholders.

“We call upon civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and all democracy advocates to stand in solidarity with Olawale Rasheed. Unity in the face of adversity is crucial to preserving the gains made in Nigeria’s democratic journey. Together, we can ensure that the rights and freedoms of all citizens, including journalists like Rasheed, are protected and upheld”, the rights group advocated”.

In light of these developments, HURIWA called on the Federal High Court in Osogbo to expedite proceedings and ensure that justice prevails in Rasheed’s case. The organization reiterated its commitment to defending human rights and press freedom in Nigeria, urging all relevant authorities to uphold the principles of democracy and the rule of law. “Harassing journalists like Rasheed not only undermines individual liberties but also threatens the fabric of a free and democratic society”, HURIWA concluded.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*

National Coordinator,

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

March 27th, 2024

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