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7 times President Jonathan clamped down on his opposition

Under Buhari’s government there has been several attempts to suppress opposition and criticisms. The case of Sahara Reporters’ Omoyele Sowore who currently remains in the custody of DSS is one among many. This has instigated comparison between the current tenure and that of Goodluck Jonathan. But was GEJ innocent? Did he always turn the other cheek?

See the 7 times people in the ‘opposition’ were oppressed under GEJ

1. Nigerian police crack down on fuel protests – January 2012

During the January 2012 demonstrations over the removal of fuel subsidy and the subsequent surge in fuel price, the Nigerian police used live ammunition, fired teargas and unleashed beatings on thousands of protesters in a bid to disperse them and and end the protests. Scores were injured and several lost their lives. The Nigerian police claimed that the protesters did not secure approval from the police, as such the demonstrations were illegal.

2. Governor Amaechi is prevented from entering Government House in Port Hacourt – September 2013

Then governor of Rivers state, Chibuike Amaechi’s convoy was stopped by the police as it made its way through the Forces road entrance to the governor’s lodge by four truck loads of policemen led by several senior officers. After inquisitions and arguments between the policemen and the governor’s aides, the policemen claimed that they were acting on orders from above. The governor’s convoy had to wait for 45 minutes before finally detouring to take the Azikiwe road entrance to to the government house.

3. Raids on Newspapers – June 2014

In June 2014, at a period when the Nigerian government and President Goodluck Jonathan were facing public pressure to do more to tackle a bloody insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants in the north, the Nigerian army carried out raids on distribution centres handling several of leading national newspapers. The raided newspapers claimed that their delivery vans were searched, vendors were questioned across the country, and copies of the papers destroyed.

When questioned about their actions, the soldiers claimed that they were acting on “orders from above”, and on reports that attackers were attempting to use the newspaper distribution system to “ferry explosives to wreak havoc”.

The move was condemned as censorship by the newspapers and international media groups.

4. Sanusi’s suspension and siege – Febuary/ June 2014

In what was widely perceived as a witch hunt for blowing the lid on the massive theft off Nigeria’s funds, President Jonathan announced the suspension of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The Presidency claimed that his suspension  was not related to witch hunt, but alleged cases of impunity, incompetence, non-challance , fraud, wastefulness, and gross abuse of and non-compliance with provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

Latter that year, President Goodluck Jonathan was accused of deploying police officers to seal off the palace to prevent new emir, Lamido Sanusi, from moving into the Palace. The police released their statement which claimed that they were only guarding the palace and its vicinity to keep the peace and prevent miscreants from looting the complex.

5. Brutal crack down on Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria – July 25 2014

On July 25 2014, members of the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria were on a procession in Zaria, Kaduna State, to mark the annual Quds Day when they clashed with security men at the P2 Roundabout in the University town. The clash left 106 injured and 34 dead, including three sons of the group’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. President Goodluck Jonathan latter called the cleric on the telephone to apologise to him on the killings but he rejected it, stating that “You don’t commit murder and say sorry” and only justice will do.

6. Tambuwal is prevented from entering National Assembly – November 2014

In what was meant to be his first seating after his defection from the ruling party to the opposition party, then, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal was blocked by the Nigerian police from entering into the National Assembly. Police fired teargas to stop mainly opposition lawmakers, including Tambuwal, from accessing the assembly, before the speaker’s loyalists smuggled him through security barriers into the lower house chamber.

The opposition party accused the police of acting on the directives of President Goodluck Jonathan to pave the way for Mr. Tambuwal’s removal as speaker.

The police eventually released a statement claiming that the action was to prevent the breakdown of law and order at the National Assembly and that its personnel had “the duty to restore order and normalcy, using lawful means”

7. Journalist expelled from Presidential Villa – May 2015

Ubale Musa of German Radio Deutsche Welle was bundled out of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa and his accreditation tag withdrawn by security operatives believed to have acted on Jonathan’s order. The Federal Government through the Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, stated that the expulsion was a “security matter”.

There are other incidents where attempts were made to silent dissenting voices during GEJ’s tenure. So while we all agree that things are worse now, let us not try to rewrite history and make it seem like the previous government did not try to suppress opposition too.

Written by Emeka Nweze

Content writer and contributor.

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