National paper lambasts Buhari, addresses him as Major General, his government a junta

By Isa Amodu

The Punch Newspapers, a national newspaper in Nigeria has lamabsts the handling of the rule of law in Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government, and said it will henceforth addresses him as Major General (Rtd) and his government as junta.

But, in swift reaction, Buhari’s Spokesperson Femi Adesina in tweet said “If you decide to call him Major General, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it. 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 paper made the declaration in an editorial on Wednesday, tagged: “Buhari’s lawlessness: Our stand” explained further that it was based on Buhari-led government’s disrespect for human rights that it vowed to address him as “Major General”, a rank he held while he was military head of state in 1984.

“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 editorial read in part.

The editorial also reeled out different human rights abuses under the administration of the President which they describe as “Draconian”, which according to the paper, he exhibited while as military dictator.

It said, “Returning as an elected president, Buhari has followed the same template, appointing Lawal Daura as Director-General of the SSS, who re-enacted the Rafindadi playbook by his treatment of Dasuki and el-Zakzakky, among others, raided the homes of judges and twice deployed armed SSS heavies to foil the arrest of two former security chiefs by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“Nigerian Navy authorities similarly ignored court orders to release Navy Captain Dada Labinjo, who they detained for over a year until his recent release on bail; Nigerian Army too detains suspects interminably on the grounds of being terrorism suspects,” the editorial added.

Punch also said the lawlessness exhibited by the government in the rearrest of Human rights activists Omoloye Sowore and the flagrant disobey of court orders as well as arrests and detention of journalists is condemnable.