Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, has warned against the arrest of Nastura Sharif, a leader of the recent protests in Katsina State against insecurity in the North.
Sharif had organised and led a coalition of Northern youth groups in the protests that rocked Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, over Boko Haram and bandits’ killings as well as raiding of communities in the north.
Sharif is the Board of Trustees’ chairman of the organisers of the protest – the Coalition of Northern Groups.
On Tuesday, the group organised a protest in Katsina, the hotbed of banditry. Similar protests are to hold in other northern states capitals on Saturday, June 20, 2020, according to a statement issued by the group on Monday.
But the group’s Director of Operations, Aminu Adamu, announced Sharif’s arrest by the police, on Wednesday, in Kaduna.
Tofa, who contested the June 12, 1993 presidential election against the winner of the poll, late Chief Moshood Abiola, in a viral video on social media, argued that the arrest and continued detention of Sharif was undemocratic.
He, therefore, called for his immediate release and warned the Presidency not to allow the protests to escalate.
Tofa said, “The arrest and detention of Alhaji Nasturah Ashir Sheriff, the leader of the Coalition of Northern Youth, is utterly wrong, undemocratic and a very bad example of intolerance. It is unwise and unjust.
“Not even during sensible and caring military rules would citizens demonstrate peacefully about a matter that worries the entire country, and anyone be arrested.
“Is this a notice that nobody is allowed to say anything or to express a view, even peacefully? Is this the Democracy Nigeria is showing to the world? We hope not.”
He urged President Buhari to order the immediate release of Sharif with an apology.
Tofa warned that Shariff should be released “before a single match ignites the forest and conflagrated the entire North and eventually the country.”
“So many people are angry about so many things. If this collective anger is tickled and pushed by a few who may have started some illegal action somewhere, it will easily spread.
“The 2011 violence, destruction and death that occurred when it was rumoured that Gen. Muhammad Buhari was denied his victory will be a child’s play this time around.
“Nigerians are very angry. Insecurity everywhere, poverty, joblessness and now Covid-19, disease, despair and desperation have eaten deep into people’s patience and good sense.
“And for the Police or the Security Services to arrest anyone for peaceful demonstration, is not only illegal but, probably, a deliberate attempt to dishonour this Government and cause more hatred against it.
“Just today, because of Nasturah’s uncalled for arrest, I have the nasty and angry, often abusive words, uttered against the President by hitherto his supporters.
“President Buhari should be very careful. He should begin to know and appreciate his true and sincere friends, and get rid of his enemies, who do tremendous harm to his image and his own future well-being and safety. He must remember that in three years, someone else will be President.
“I, and millions of other Nigerians, condemn the arrest of Nasturah Sheriff and other Nigerians who were either killed or injured simply because they came out to demonstrate and make their views known in a peaceful manner. We demand Nasturah’s immediate release, and all those in detention for such purposes. We are in a Democracy.”