Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, has implored the federal government to refrain from using the security architecture of the country to silence citizens.
Soyinka made statement in reaction to the closing down of the Lagos venue where he and other notable figures where scheduled to speak on state of the nation, especially insecurity in the country, on August 19.
Soyinka gave the admonition on Saturday in Badagry at the unveiling of an art gallery in commemoration of his 85th birthday.
Soyinka, told the government to stop “trying to muzzle people” when they gather to deliberate and exchange ideas on how to move the country forward.
Soyinka noted that the government’s attitude showed that it was “afraid to listen”.
Soyinka said “It is important to send strong message to this government and to the security services to stop trying to muzzle people when they come together to exchange ideas
“You’re reducing them as human beings and you’re also reducing yourselves as human beings, because it means you’re afraid to listen.
“One of the beauties of existence is the ability to express concern which we cannot compromise. Creativity takes place in an atmosphere of absolute freedom… the reduction of the rights of expression of any one of us is an infringement and assault on the rights of all of us.”
Soyinka also warned Nigerians to be cautious of information they come across social media platforms, adding that, in Nigeria, information often disseminates fast and tends to have ripple effect on the polity.
He averred “Be very, very careful what you believe even when you read such materials in social media or sometimes in newspapers because in this country, we have a most fertile multiplier effect.
“When somebody hears something, he puts it on the Internet, it spreads and an industry begins as people start commenting on things which never existed.
“Positive, negative or neutral, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that somebody’s identity has been stolen and some contemptible cowards are responsible for stealing that individual’s identity.
“Putting words in his or her mouth and thereby generating totally non-existent irrelevant contestations.
“So, when you read things on social media, take it with a pinch of salt, decide whether it makes sense because the person who posted it might have a private agenda.”