Presidency on Sunday accused Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka of blackmail for condemning the arrest of an activist, Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore was arrested on Saturday by armed officials of State Security Service, SSS, for calling for a revolutionary protest.
“Beyond the word ‘revolution, another much mis-used and misunderstood word, nothing that Sowore has uttered, written, or advocated suggests that he is embarking on, or urging the public to engage in a forceful overthrow of government,” Mr Soyinka said.
He compared the actions of the security agencies that arrested Sowore to what happened during the tenure of the late dictator, Mr Sani Abacha.
In its reaction, the presidency through Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, said Soyinka and others who have condemned Sowore’s arrest are blackmailers.
“You mentioned the name of Mr Wole Soyinka. Some of these critics of government are people whom we have great respect and admiration for. When things are going wrongly with law and order in the country, they say the Police are not doing their work. They raise their voices, asking that “the culprits be booked and expeditiously punished in the most severe manner.”
“The police under a new leadership is now rising to the occasion, saying “we cannot take any more atrocities against the law in our country and they are saying don’t do anything. They are calling out Mr Buhari and comparing him to autocratic leaders.
“This is an unpardonable blackmail that cannot stop Police and other law enforcement agencies from doing their work,” Shehu wrote.
The presidential aide then alleged that Mr Sowore’s revolution call was a call for violent change of government.
“A Nigerian is by right empowered to call for a change of government using constitutional means; to protest peacefully against government policies and decisions. But to call for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government and president and worse – were those calling for it to attempt to do so – is not acceptable under any law in Nigeria. Violence will never be accepted again as a way to change governments in this country. Those days are gone.
“Nigeria has a well-crafted Constitution and elaborate laws governing elections that guide an orderly succession in government. We have a judicial system that actively serves as a watchdog of the people’s rights.
“Yet, we are daily witnesses to obscene display of delight in the killing of our soldiers and policemen, an open contempt for the country’s laws and its people, accompanied by loud cheers from the so-called New Media. Is this the way to grow a country?” Shehu wrote.