By Toby Prince
The Presidency has warned the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union to steer clear of Nigeria’s affairs, especially on alleged human rights abuses.
This warning was issued by Femi Adesina, spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday while reacting to reports from the EU, UK and the U.S. that Nigeria has a high record of human rights abuses.
He reacted during an interview on Channels TV “Politics Today” programme.
Mr Adesina explained that Nigeria is a sovereign nation and “will not be bothered about the reports from the foreign countries.”
Speaking on the invasion of court by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) to re-arrest the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, last Friday, he said: “we are not answerable to the U.S., the UK or the EU.”
“We are Nigeria, a sovereign country. Those countries and entities have issues of their own. Let them deal with their issues. Let Nigeria also deal with her internal issues. We are not answerable to them.”
Mr Adesina, a two-term president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, however, said he would respect the opinion of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka “than that of any foreign nation or commentators”.
“We respect Professor Soyinka. You don’t have too many of them in the country or even on the continent. He is an avatar and he is well respected but his opinion will remain his opinion. It will be considered and if there are things to act on, we will act on them,” he disclosed.
Some lawmakers from the UK and the U.S. have called for the release of Mr Sowore but the federal government has rebuffed this.
Apart from Mr Sowore, the Nigerian government is also illegally detaining many others including a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky.
The presidency also described the opinions of those calling for the release of those ‘illegally’ detained as “that of a few Nigerians”.
“Genuine issues will be looked into. We have had instances in which the government had to reverse itself because there were concerns raised,” Mr Adesina said. “It shows that the government is responsive but you cannot listen to a babble of voices. It will distract you from what you are doing.”
Responding to allegations that he stopped being a journalist after taking up the job to be Mr Buhari’s media adviser, Mr Adesina said: “I am still in the media. It is just that the roles are a bit reversed. When I am done with government by the grace of God, I will still return to the media,” he said.