LAGOS, Nigeria – The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Portal Welby, over President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged refusal to obey court orders.
SERAP in its letter urged Archbishop Welby to use his friendship with President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevail on him to obey court orders, especially the most recent one involving activists Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, who are still in DSS detention despite a court order for their release.
Buhari on Sunday evening met with Archbishop of Canterbury in London.
SERAP in the letter dated November 11,2019 signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare accused state governments and the federal government of using the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights.
SERAP urged the Archbishop to use his leadership position and influence Buhari to call for the release of Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare from detention as ordered by the court.
The letter read in part: “Taking a stance on the issues of the rule of law and respect for court orders in Nigeria will also contribute to ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law by the 36 state governments in Nigeria, as these governments seem to be taking their cue from the federal authorities regarding disobedience of court orders.
“Journalist and activist, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights.
“Mr Sowore was arrested on August 3 by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) for planning a protest.
“Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but the security agents have continued to hold them despite being served with the court orders.
“This refusal implicitly violates the defendants’ constitutional rights to presumption of innocence.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury can use his leadership position and influence to persuade President Buhari to promote the rule of law in words and in action by obeying all court orders, including the order for the release of Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare from detention.”
SERAP also said that the Archbishop, by virtue of his position can reaffirm his belief in justice, rule of law and the basic human rights of all people by speaking out with a strong voice against ‘‘the disobedience of court orders.”