The Coalition of Northern Groups has joined the growing voices of condemnation of the arrest and detention of human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, by the Nigeria Police Force on New Year’s Eve.
The coalition said it viewed the arrest of Sowore, along with four other activists during a candlelight procession to usher in the New Year in Abuja as another “sign of brutal encroachments on people’s fundamental rights – a misconduct which is becoming the hallmark of this administration.”
The CNG in a release signed by its Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, stated that it views Sowore’s arrest as “indiscriminate, unwarranted, uncalled for and downright unacceptable and a dangerous tendency towards totalitarian oppression and suppression of people’s rights.”
Suleiman said, “The Coalition of Northern Groups wishes to join the Nigerian civil rights community in condemning the arrest and detention of Sowore by the Nigeria police on New Year’s Eve.
“CNG views the arrest of Sowore, along with four of his friends during a candlelight procession to usher in the New Year in Abuja, as another sign of brutal encroachments on people’s fundamental rights that is becoming the hallmark of this administration.
“We remind the government and its agencies that the universal right to move freely means that a person cannot be arbitrarily forced to remain in, or move to or from a particular place.
“The right includes freedom from physical and procedural barriers, like requiring permission before entering a public park or participating in a public demonstration in a public place.
“Based on the above premise, we view Sowore’s arrest for participating in a religious rite indiscriminate, unwarranted, uncalled for and downright unacceptable and a dangerous tendency towards totalitarian oppression and suppression of people’s rights.”
Sowore had earlier been 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 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.
SaharaReporters, New York