A human rights and pro-democracy group has called on the Nigerian government to stop its clampdown on citizens and release the convener of #RevolutionNow, Comrade Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested on New Year’s Eve.
In a statement on Friday, the group said it is critical that the Nigerian government does not use its powers to undermine people’s rights to freedom of assembly and association.
The group condemned the detention of Sowore and other pro-democracy activists by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
It also enjoined the Nigerian government to respect human rights in 2021 and stop any action that undermines freedom of association, speech and that of the press.
The statement partly reads, “The encroachment of fundamental rights of Nigerians by the authorities is unbecoming and this intolerable attitude toward activists and pro-democracy advocates by the government must be condemned by all and sundry.
“This is not the first or second time that Sowore’s rights are being violated by the authorities. The repeated attempts by the security agencies to always arrest and detain Sowore on trumped up charges and fictitious cases of conspiracy are part of a brazen attempt to suppress his voice.
“We strongly condemn the incessant targeting of Sowore and other young activists advocating for good governance. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right and no one should be hounded on account of exercising his/her fundamental rights.”
It will be recalled that Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019, in Lagos by the Department of State Services, Nigeria’s domestic intelligence agency with a history of repression.
He was moved to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja where he was illegally detained for 144 days despite different court orders for his release.
The Department of State Services accused Sowore of baseless crimes like money laundering. The security agency claimed he was plotting to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari even though it failed to produce evidence to substantiate its claim.
He was subsequently arraigned for treason but had pleaded not guilty. The activist cum journalist was granted bail in November 2020, but part of the conditions restricts him to Abuja.
Nigerians on social media have called for his release with hashtag #freesowore as his whereabouts remain unknown. The police have yet to issue any statement on his arrest.
SaharaReporters, New York