Groups of human rights activists have condemned the judgment by an Abuja High Court sentencing popular activist, Ibrahim Wala, to 12 years in jail over a Facebook post, with a warning that the saints must not be unjustly punished for the offences of the villains.

Wala was found guilty of unlawful assembly, public incitement and criminal defamation by Justice Yusuf Halilu.

The rights groups, Free Nigeria Movement, MADConnect, Coalition In Defence of Nigerian Democracy, Concerned Nigerians as well as Frederick Nwabufo, Public analyst, argued that Wala should not be made a victim of the dysfunctionality that he has fought against for many years.

They stated that the recent arrest and intimidation of activists in the country raises concerns about the future of the democracy of the country.

“In addition, recent developments in Nigeria in which activists, journalists and critics of public officials are arbitrarily arrested, persecuted, and sentenced to jail make us worry about the future of our democracy and civic spaces in Nigeria," they said.

“In particular, this case against IG Wala makes us worry even more that the wave of injustice is moving at an alarming speed to crush every voice of reason and dissent in the country.

“While we hope that the subsequent legal actions that will be taken in response to this judgment will give respite to our comrade, we wish to remind the Nigerian judiciary that it must remain firmly committed to its mandate as the citadel of hope for the common people and activists like IG Wala in Nigeria.”

The groups spoke on the importance of not allowing Nigeria “nosedive into a muddy state wherein the saints are unjustly punished for the offences of the villains”.

They also urged Nigerians to defend the country’s democracy from the unending and repressive assaults of the dictatorial elements in positions of power, “lest we will all be crushed by the ruthless wave of injustice and dictatorship sweeping through the entire country”.

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