Not fewer than 50 Civil Society Organizations have come together to sign an agreement calling for the Intervention of the United Nations and Africa Union for the immediate and unconditional released of the Political Activist and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyole Sowore, who was arrested and detained by the Department of State Security about 56 days ago.
This violates the court order which granted the DSS the right to detain him for 45 days. After the 45 days elapsed, he has however not been released even after a Federal High Court in Abuja ask for his release and served Sowore’s lead councel, Femi Falana (SAN) his release permit for about three days now.
Sowore was arrested since 3 August 2019 after calling for a national protest which he tagged #RevolutionNow. Since then, he has been in DSS custody.
Among these Civil Society Organizations who have made their voice heard about this issue are Media Rights Agenda(MRA), Global Voices, Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP), and others.
In the words of Mr Ayode Longe, MRA Programme Director said: “It is antithetical to the tenets of democracy to arrest a man who was merely exercising his constitutional right of assembly, association and expression and the height of impunity to continue to detain him even after a court of competent jurisdiction has granted him bail. The DSS must immediately and unconditionally release Sowore.”
The Global Voices represented by Egbunike Nwachukwu said that, “Omoloye Sowore’s continued detention and the charges of treason affirm our position that this trial is merely a criminalisation of political dissent.
“We call on the Nigerian government to honour its own laws and the international treaties it is a signatory to. Sowore should be unconditionally released.”
Commenting on this, the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) through Oluwadare Kolawole said that, “Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice systems, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom.
He further posited that, “Invoking charges of treasonable felony to unjustifiably or arbitrarily restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression undermine the essence of the criminal justice system and the rule of law.
The CSOs however, commended and acknowledged the efforts made by SAN, Femi Falana for continuing fighting to secure the publisher and activist’s release from DSS detention.