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Release Opeyemi Owatimeyin now! By Bolanle Bolawole

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Reports making the rounds on social media are to the effect that one Opeyemi Owatimeyin has been whisked into detention by security agents, specifically the DSS or SSS, after his arrest at Iyara, a town in Kogi state. His “offence”, the reports continue, was pamphleteering.

Owatimeyin reportedly was distributing pamphlets promoting the idea of an Odua Republic which, I must say, is an idea whose time has come. And no Jupiter can stop an idea whose time has come, says Victor Hugo, not even “all the armies” and “nothing else in the world… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Standing against it, MKO Abiola told us, is like standing in front of a moving train.

Besides, the Nigerian constitution guarantees to every citizen the freedom to hold opinion and to canvass the same. If it is the opinion of Owatimeyin that the Oodua Republic becomes reality – as it is also my own considered opinion and that of millions of Nigerians home and abroad – he is protected by the Nigerian constitution not only to hold such opinion but to also canvass it.

Pamphleteering was Owatimeyin’s own chosen means of exercising his fundamental human rights in this regard; others have different means of doing similarly. I exercise my own right through my write-ups. Anyone with a contrary opinion – and there should be millions of them as well, home and abroad – can choose any peaceful means at their disposal to ventilate their own views. If they so desire, they may pamphleteer like Owatimeyin or write like I do.

To seize a law-abiding citizen and prevent him from exercising his God-given and law-sanctioned fundamental human rights is reckless, unlawful, illegal, oppressive, dictatorial, and undemocratic. Your right to say ”Yes” presupposes another person’s right to say “No.”

When you deny anyone that right, you are inadvertently and inexorably putting your own right in jeopardy. You cannot exercise your own right for long, even if you are armed to the teeth, if others do not enjoy their own rights. Chairman Mao, the Chinese revolutionary leader, said, let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thoughts contend. Chinua Achebe said let the hawk perch, let the eagle perch, and if one tells the other not to perch, let his wing break.

Opeyemi Owatimeyin should be released without further delay!

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