A group of Nigerians based within and outside the country has described the continued detention of Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, as a mockery of democracy.
In a statement on Sunday, the group called for the immediate release of Sowore and Olawale Bakare, who was also arrested just like the activist.
It said President Muhammadu Buhari is “a beneficiary of the gallant efforts of the likes of Sowore, over almost two decades, to return Nigeria to democratic rule and expand the space for democratic life.”
“We, the undersigned, call for the immediate release of pro-democracy activists, Messrs. Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, from detention,” the statement read.
“On September 30, Mr. Sowore was arraigned before an Abuja Federal High Court on charges of “treason, money laundering, and harassing the president” – the last of which is unknown to Nigerian statutes. On October 4, an Abuja Federal Court granted both Messrs. Sowore and Bakare bail, but on conditions so stiff and so onerous as to amount to no bail at all.
“Even though Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, announced, after the bail conditions were revised, that the conditions have been satisfied, the Department of State Security (DSS) has refused to respect the rule of law. We fear that the Federal Government is determined to continue to hold on to both men for as long as possible.”
The group said there were indications that Sowore was targetted for the “vigorous and unsparing criticism of the current administration and the state of affairs in Nigeria”.
“Many who have expressed patriotic and visionary objections to the fundamental crises of the Nigerian state have made similar calls (for revolution) in the past. President Muhammadu Buhari did so when he felt that elections were rigged against him,” the statement read.
“Before he became president, Buhari relentlessly inveighed against three successive presidents, even as he repeatedly lost electoral contests against his predecessors. He was neither harassed nor detained. Indeed, today, President Buhari is a beneficiary of the gallant efforts of the likes of Sowore, over almost two decades, to return Nigeria to democratic rule and expand the space for democratic life.
“Therefore, this insidious and lawless move by the Buhari administration runs against the basic ethos of democracy, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We urge Nigerians from all walks of life and those committed to human liberty all over the world to speak up against this blatant perversion of justice. We call on the National Assembly, civil society organizations, and international human rights and political advocacy organizations to put pressure on the Federal Government to release Messrs. Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare immediately.”
The statement was signed by Ebenezer Obadare, University of Kansas, US; Wale Adebanwi, University of Oxford, UK; Ayisha Osori, Concerned Citizen, Abuja, Nigeria; Chido Onumah, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Abuja, Nigeria; Frank Abumere, The Arctic University of Norway, Norway; Kunle Ajibade, The News, Lagos; G. Ugo Nwokeji, University of California, Berkeley, US; Nike Ransome-Kuti, legal practitioner, Lagos.
Others are Tunde Fagbenle, author, Ibadan; Amatoritsero Ede, University of the Bahamas, The Bahamas; Akin Osuntokun, Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford, UK; Rogers Orock, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa;
Ebun Sonaiya, Lagos; Kole Odutola, University of Florida, Gainesville, US; Teju Olaniyan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, US; Funmi Iyanda, OYA Media, UK; Stacey Vanderhurst, University of Kansas, US; Tade Ipadeola, PEN International; Elke Zuern, Sarah Lawrence College, New York, US; James Yeku, University of Kansas, US; Kathryn Rhine, University of Kansas, US; Moses Ochonu, Vanderbilt University, US; Dapo Olorunyomi, Premium Times; and Jumoke Verissimo, University of Alberta, Canada.
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