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Buhari’s spokesman reacts to Punch editorial

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President Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state of Nigeria before his regime was truncated. PHOTO: William Campbell/Sygma/Corbis

Spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari said The Punch newspaper is free to refer the president by his military rank.

“If you decide to call him Major General, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina tweeted. 

“So, you are not completely out of order. The fact that you can do so is even another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria.”

The Punch Newspaper in its Wednesday, December 11 editorial said that it will henceforth address the Nigerian President with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s- Buhari as Major General Buhari (retd).

“As a symbolic demonstration of our protest against autocracy and military-style repression, PUNCH (all our print newspapers, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, PUNCH Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially Punchng.com) will henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law,” The Punch said.

The Punch said her decision was in protest of serial disregard for human rights, court orders and the battering of other arms of government and Nigeria’s democratic institutions by the ‘Buhari regime’.

The national daily criticised the president for the continued detention of Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim el-Zakzakky and his wife and former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki by agencies of the Nigerian government despite court orders granting them bail.

The Punch posited that ‘Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd)’ has sustained the ‘ham-fisted military junta’ attitude he used to overthrow a democratically elected Nigerian government in 1984. 

“Under Buhari, the SSS has become a monstrous and repressive secret police, acting often with impunity…The Nigeria Police, whose notoriety predates Buhari’s second coming, has continued its serial abuse of human rights,” Punch said.

“Under the law, suspects cannot be held beyond 48 hours except by a court order. But the regime observes this in the breach.”

The national daily said some state governments in the country are also acting similarly to the ‘Buhari regime’ in disregarding human rights and court orders.

The Punch urged Nigerians to stop failing to act against oppression and learn to stand up for their rights through all peaceful and legal means, including the right to protest and of peaceful assembly.


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