A Nigerian civil society group says it may soon adopt the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, as a “Prisoner of Conscience.”
The Nigerian government took Mr Sowore into detention last month and has filed charges of treason and money laundering against him over his attempt to lead a mass protest under the slogan: Revolution Now.
But Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) said on Monday in Lagos that it was working with renowned rights groups across the world to ensure that he is adopted as a prisoner of conscience unless the government releases him without further delay.
The group also accused the Nigerian authorities were making frivolous charges against Mr Sowore who had been in custody since August 5.
The group also called for the release of Olawale Bakare, a member of #RevolutionNow arrested in Osogbo, Osun, on August 5, Publisher of Cross River Watch, Agba Jalingo; and Ekanem Ekpo. The last two were arrested by the police and have yet to be taken to court.
“The continuous detention of Sowore is an embarrassment to Nigeria as a country. Everywhere we visit across the world, people are asking questions about Sowore’s detention.
“Many people do not understand the logic of laying charges of treason against Sowore simply because he used the word revolution.
“His incarceration continues to put a question mark on the credibility of the Nigerian government. Democracy dies when the culture of debate and the tradition of protest are lost,” the group said in a statement by CSNAC Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju,
CSNAC said the Nigerian government had beyond imaginations embarrassed itself by charging Sowore for “insulting the President”.
“It is even more ridiculous that he is being charged for insulting Mr President and also for money laundering where money was legitimately transferred through the financial institutions.
“These are frivolous charges aimed at seeking justification for his illegal arrest and continuous detention.”
CSNAC said from indications, the Nigerian government was desperate to press charges against Mr Sowore and ensure he is jailed at all cost.
The group said Mr Sowore was being hunted in part, due to series of publications in Sahara Reporters that consistently exposed corrupt practices in this and previous governments.
“Sowore is obviously a victim of vengeance. Corrupt politicians and security chiefs whose dirty deals have consistently been exposed by Sahara Reporters are looking for ways to settle scores. They think by bringing down Sowore, Sahara Reporters will die.
“Its an illusion to think by keeping Sowore in jail, Sahara Reporters would be off the global network. This is a mistake because Sahara Reporters has assumed the status of an independent entity,” he said.
CSNAC also dismissed the charge of money laundering by the State Security Service (SSS), saying it was an attempt to blackmail Sahara Reporters and its publisher.
Mr Sowore was arrested on August 5 in Lagos and the Federal Government obtained an ex-parte order granting his detention for 45 days.
After keeping him for almost two months, he was charged for insulting President Muhammadu Buhari during a live programme on AriseTV. The government also accused him of treason.
He was also charged for transferring the sum of $19,975 from his personal account to Sahara Reporters. (NAN)