FG urged to release Sahara Reporters publisher, Sowore
The Federal Government has been asked to immediately release detained Sahara Reporters publisher, Mr Omoyele Sowore and his compatriot, Mr Olawale Bakare. The two have been kept in detention amidst a rash of court orders none of which has guaranteed their freedom. There concerns in the human rights circle that in the wake of the CONVID-19 outbreak, Sowore’s life may be at risk.
In statement issued at the weekend and made available to Irohinoodua, the foremost Nigerian advocacy group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) said the organization is worried about the fate of Sowore in the light of the growing lockdown occasioned by CONVID-19 spread. HEDA said the group is also touched by the recent outcry from Sowore over alleged plans to endanger his life.
The statement signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said the Coronavirus outbreak present fresh grounds why political detainees should be set free.
“The Federal Government can better guarantee protection for Sowore and his soulmate by releasing them. While we want the FG to ensure the protection of Sahara Reporters publisher, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and Bakare, the best way to do this is to release them unconditionally.”
The journalist who has been held since August 6 last year raised the alarm early this week that his life was in danger. HEDA said it was deeply concerned about the plight of Mr Sowore especially at a time when the whole world is at the peril of a global lockdown.
Sowore in a mid-week release said there were plans by the authorities to pick him up from his location to a military barracks where he alleged he would be tortured and infected with CONVID-19. Sowore said he had written to his lawyers and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria apprising him of the plot by the Nigerian Army seeking to detain him for revealing “classified information on SaharaReporters.” The medium had reported that the Chief of Staff, (CSO) to the President, Mr Aba Kyari tested positive to the coronavirus sparking fury in the Presidency which later confirmed the report.
Sowore had said “their latest bogey is to make it sound like I am part of the network of terrorists in the country, under the same guise they fraudulently obtained a detention order from Justice Taiwo Taiwo on August 8 2019 claiming I went to Dubai to collect money to overthrow the bumbling regime, when they discovered I had never been to Dubai, they quickly dropped the terrorism claims, and instead filed some other ridiculously malicious charges that they haven’t been able to prosecute till date.”
Sowore said upon disclosure of Abba Kyari’s COVID-19 status, officials urged “the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai to get his army to go to court in order to get another detention order to detain me in a military facility where I could be tortured and infected with COVID-19 under the bogus assertion that I am revealing classified information on SaharaReporters.” He produced a documentary evidence which he said he obtained from the Federal court which revealed that he was abducted in court on December 5th 2019 while the DSS rushed to court to seek an exparte order to detain him for 90-days ostensibly claiming that he partook in killing policemen alongside members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB) in Anambra state.
Sowore said the request was withdrawn from Justice Inyang Ekwo’s court in February 2020. “Their plot is thickening by the day but resistance is the only way an oppressed people can gain liberty”, Sowore had said.
‘At this period of CONVID-19 pandemic, this is a difficult moment for Nigerians who are free. For those in detention, their ordeal will multiply. Sowore and Bakare were arrested since August 6, 2019. They fall into the category of those that will be vulnerable. We are worried about precautions taken by the government to protect Sowore and others. What are the provisions for them to prevent exposure to CONVID-19. In this context, we urge the FG to release them unconditionally” Suraju said.