The Actors Guild of Nigeria, umbrella body for all movie practitioners in the country, has called on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rights of citizens by accommodating free speech.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the organisation, Prince Ifeanyi Dike, made the call on Tuesday ahead of the AGN’s election of new executives in Akwa Ibom State on October 31.
According to him, citizens freely expressing their thoughts about the state of the country were now the target of law enforcement agencies working on the orders of powerful persons in government.
Dike said for Nigeria to work for all citizens, then the rights of every must be respected by the government.
He said, “Government at all levels should allow people to express themselves. By the way government is transient.
“Those that demanded for free speech yesterday should allow free speech today so that we will have free speech tomorrow.
“Free speech is meant to make government sit up. Speaking out doesn’t mean you hate government but that you want government to succeed.
“AGN, as a transparent organisation that has contributed to the growth of Nigeria’s economy, enjoins the government to promote freedom of speech rather than trying to suppress it.”
In recent weeks, government, through the Department of State Services has embarked on a ruthless clampdown on dissenting voices across the country.
For example, pro-democracy activist and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, was arrested by the DSS in Lagos on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to express their displeasure at the poor state of governance in the country.
Despite being granted bail by the court, the government has continued to hold on to him since that period.
It has been the same case for Olawale Bakare widely known as Mandate, Agba Jalingo – a journalist based in Cross River State and several others facing persecution by government for freely expressing themselves and speaking truth to power.