NIGERIA – The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and 49 other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) to intervene to secure the immediate release of Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, a journalist and human rights activist, was arrested on 3 August 2019 after calling called for #RevolutionNow protest.
He is still being detained in Nigeria in violation of a Federal High Court’s order issued on September 24 for the Department of State Services (DSS) to release him on bail.
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.”
Commenting on the charges, Nwachukwu Egbunike of Global Voices said: “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.”
Olúwádàre A. Kóláwolé of the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP), said: “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.
“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.
MRA commended Sowore’s legal team, led by Mr Femi Falana (SAN), for continuing all efforts to secure his release.