A group of activists has demanded the release from detention of anti-corruption campaigner, Mr. Ibrahim Garba Wala, and accused the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) of supporting corruption. The demand was made in a statement signed by Mr. F. Baba Isa and other members of the Free Wala Support Group.
The statement, issued on Wednesday, said the frontline activist and social crusader has been in Police detention for seven days without being charged to court or released on bail.
The group ascribed Mr Wala's ordeal to his decision to expose the large-scale corruption in the National Hajj Commission and how Abdullah Mukhtar, the commission's Chairman, is tainted.
The Free Wala Support Group said Mr. Mukhtar filed a suit in court against Wala, an action it said is within his rights.
"If he feels that anyone, including Wala, has infringed on his rights or defamed his character, he reserves the right to approach the court for redress," conceded the Free Wala Support Group.
It, however, wondered why Mr. Mukhtar decided to use the Police to detain the activist without a formal charge.
"He was arrested and detained without a charge. As I write, Wala is still languishing in a police cell because he spoke against the powers that be.
The truth is that this is bigger than IG Wala. It is about us, all of us. It is about activists and activism. It is about dissenting voices. They are testing the waters ahead of the coming season. They are checking to see if anything will happen if a frontline activist like Wala is arrested and detained without charges," said the group.
It added that if nothing is done by activists to free Mr. Wala, it would embolden the government to go after activists and throw them in detention without charges.
The group warned that the government will fail in its plan to silence activists and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the Inspector- General of Police to release Mr. Wala immediately.
"How can an administration, which rode to power on the mantra of fighting corruption begin to throw anti-corruption crusaders into detention because they spoke against corruption? On whose side is the Inspector-General of Police? On the side of corruption or anti-corruption? Why is the Chairman of the Hajj Commission not under investigation? Is the Inspector General of Police supposed to be investigating the allegations Mr Wala made against the Chairman or detaining Wala for making the allegations?" the group asked.
It called on every activist, intellectual, people of conscience and members of the International community to support the campaign to free Mr. Wala.
The group appealed to Nigerians to confront the misuse of state power as Mr. Wala’s lawyers attempt to free him through the courts.
"Let’s say 'No' to the Police picking us up randomly and locking us up without charges. This has to stop. Let’s write emails, let’s tweet, let’s make posts, let’s make calls, let’s speak up to power and tyranny. If they don’t listen, we shall walk up to them in their airconditioned offices and demand for our rights," said the Free Wala Support Group.