Stop muzzling people, Soyinka cautions Nigerian govt

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has again warned Nigerian government against the use of force to clampdown on citizens, especially when they are exercising their fundamental human rights.

He gave the warning at an event organised on Saturday in Lagos, as part of the activities marking his 85th birthday.

“One of the beauties of existence is the ability to express oneself,” Professor Soyinka said.

He added, “It’s a fundamental human right which we cannot compromise and it is important to send this strong message to this government and to the security services to stop trying to muzzle people when they come together to exchange ideas.” The Nobel Laureate stated that government institutions must respect the right of Nigerians who wish to deploy demonstrative means to question the policies and programmes of the government.

He decried that the recent attempt by security operatives to stop a pro-democracy gathering in Lagos was a display of intolerance by the government.

Professor Soyinka re-emphasised what he described as ‘the simple truth’, stressing that creativity takes place in an atmosphere of absolute freedom.

Condemning the disruption of peaceful protests by citizens, he said, “You (the government) are reducing them (the citizens) as human beings and you are also reducing yourselves as human beings because it means that you are afraid to listen.

“And those who are afraid to listen, usually, are guilty people; that is why they do not want to listen.”

“The reduction of the freedom of any one of us however small, however minor; the reduction of the rights to expression of any one of us is an infringement and assault on the rights of all of us, whether we are part of that particular exercise or not,” the Nobel Laureate insisted.

Professor Soyinka was one of those scheduled to speak at the symposium organised by a group under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution at the Ikeja area of the state on August 19.

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