Jailing of bereaved 70-year-old critic shameful – Group slams Buhari, Masari

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Pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians has described as “shameful” the sentencing of a 70-year-old man, Bala Izala for insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari.

The group said the septuagenarian should have been left off the hook after it emerged that he issued the insults after losing his brother to a bandit attack.

Concerned Nigerians made its stance known in a Thursday statement signed by its Spokesman, Theophilus Abu Agada.

According to the group, Izala would not have had any course to insult Buhari and Masari if the duo had not failed in their constitutional responsibilities of securing the lives and properties of Nigerians and Katsina residents respectively.

The statement read, “We condemn the shameful act of impunity and abuse of office by President Buhari’s led government and Katsina state governor, Aminu Masari over the arrest, detention and sentence of a 70-year-old Bala Izala and two others for allegedly ‘insulting’ the President and Governor Aminu Bello Masari.

“Mr. Izala had said he spoke out of anger when he visited his village and found out that bandits had killed his family members and rustled 15 of his cows.

“Though some kind-hearted Nigerians were able to pay the option of fine slammed on Mr. Izala in securing his release, it is important to note that this is a gross abuse of power by the authorities.

“If President Buhari and Governor Masari had not failed in their constitutional duty in securing the lives and property of Nigerians and Katsina people instead of negotiating with terrorists and bandits, Mr. Izala wouldn’t have had any reason to criticise them which was tagged an insult.

“Even so, Mr. Izala has the constitutional right to criticise any elected official as guaranteed in Section 39 of 1999 Constitution which states that: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”.

“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian government to faithfully discharge their constitutional responsibility and stop jailing critics.”

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