Professor Wole Soyinka has come out to condemn the invasion of a court in Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest Omoyele Sowore.
In a statement personally signed by the Nobel Laureate on Friday, he asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the agency to order.
He issued the statement hours after DSS operatives who came in at least three pickup trucks stormed the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in a bid to re-arrest Mr Omoyele Sowore.
The attempt to make the arrested inside the court was, however, resisted by Sowore and his supporters, resulting in a scuffle between both sides.
Confronting the security officials, Sowore’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, stated that it was very wrong to carry out such an operation in court.
He, thereafter, asked the officials to go out of the court premises after which Sowore was driven in Falana’s vehicle to the DSS office where he was re-arrested and detained.
In his reaction, Professor Soyinka likened Sowore’s rearrest to what he called ‘Lessons from the African Wild Dog.”
According to him, disobedience calls to disobedience and the disobedience of the orders would only lead to the disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society by the people.
The Nobel laureate warned the government to uphold and respect judicial institutions in order to prevent the present situation from degenerating into chaos.
He also advised that those he described as the “wild dogs of disobedience” be taught some basic court manners.
Before Friday’s incident happened, the court had ruled to adjourn the trial of Sowore and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, until February 11, 2020.
The duo are facing charges of treason following the demonstrations by some Nigerians under the #RevolutionNow to protest what they described as worsening conditions in the country.
The DSS released Sowore and Bakare on Thursday after refusing to do so in disobedience to two court orders.
Despite the refusal, the security agency insisted that it has always obeyed the orders of the court.
Read Professor Soyinka’s statement below:
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Lessons From The African Wild Dog (Lycaeon Pictus)
A few years ago, I watched the video of a pack of the famed African wild dogs hunt, eventually bring down, and proceed to devour a quarry. It was an impala, antelope family.
The pack isolated the most vulnerable looking member of the herd – it was pregnant – pursued it, until it fled to a waterhole which, for such animals, is the nearest thing to a sanctuary.
A few minutes ago, almost as it was happening, I watched the video of a pack of the DSS, bring down, and fight over their unarmed, totally defenceless quarry within the sanctuary of a court of law.
I found little or no difference between the two scenarios, except that the former, the wild dogs, exhibited more civilised table manners than the DSS u court manners.
Only yesterday, in my commentary on the ongoing Sowore saga, I pointed out the near-perfect similarity between plain crude thuggery and the current rage of court disobedience.
Little did I suspect that the state children of disobedience would aspire to the level of the African wild dogs on a pack hunt.
I apologise for underestimating the DSS capacity for the unthinkable. I reiterate the nation’s concern, indeed alarm, about the escalating degradation of the judiciary through multiple means, of which disobedience of court orders is fast becoming the norm.
May I remind this government that disobedience calls to disobedience, and that disobedience of the orders of the constitutional repository of the moral authority of arbitration – the judiciary – can only lead eventually to a people’s disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society, a state of desperation that is known, recognised and accepted as – civil disobedience.
It is so obvious – state disobedience leads eventually to civil disobedience, piecemeal or through a collective withdrawal of recognition of other structures of authority.
That way leads to chaos but – who set it in motion? As is often the case, the state, unquestionably. Such a state bears full responsibility for the ensuing social condition known as anomie.
It has become imperative and urgent to send this message to President-General Buhari: Rein in your wild dogs of disobedience. And for a start, get a trainer to teach them some basic court manners!