Sowore’s continued detention by the federal government and the DSS has attracted the attentions of international community as the United States lawmakers in Washington DC wrote a letter dated November 25, requesting to know more about why Sowore and several other civil and human rights activists are been held in detention.
According to a Tribune reports, United States lawmakers, Washington DC, has condemned the continued detention of the publisher of the Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, Jones Abiri, Kofi Bartels, Samuel Ogundipe and some other journalists and activists by the Nigerian government.
This was as the lawmakers also expressed worries and concerns over what it said was the closure of the media and civic space in Nigeria, noting that the actions of the government and the security agencies reflected lack of commitment to civic freedoms.
The US lawmakers made the allegations in a letter dated 25 November 2019 and addressed to Ambassador Sylvanus Nsofor, Head of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Washington DC, USA.
It noted that the repressive actions of the Nigerian government were becoming more alarming in view of the fact that the government has been defying series of court orders freeing some of the detainees and also resorting to using of excessive force against non-violent protesters in some parts of the country.
The lawmakers, in the letter signed by Senator Robert Menedez and a member of the Congress, Josh Gottheimer, sighted on Wednesday by the Nigerian Tribune, condemned the Nigerian government for harassing and detaining Sowore and others, whom it said were investigating and speaking out against politically-sensitive problems, including corruption and insecurity.
“A number of troubling reports about Nigerian security services assaulting and detaining journalists, using excessive force on non-violent protesters and taking other actions that inhibit freedom of expression, and otherwise prevent Nigerians from fully exercising their fundamental constitutional rights,” the lawmakers wrote.
Alleging that there were reports of torture of some of the detainees, the lawmakers wrote: “In, at least, one instance, the Department of Security Services (DSS) has ignored a court order to release a detained activist.
“Restrictions and deadly crackdowns on non-violent protests since 2015 have similarly reflected a lack of apparent commitment to civic freedoms which is beginning to negatively impact the image of Nigeria’s government, both at home and abroad.