The Federal Government of Nigeria has broken its silence on the ordeal of journalist and activist, Omoyele Sowore. The Department of State Security Service (DSS) invaded a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday, November 7, and rearrested the embattled political activist.
Sowore was arrested in August for calling for revolution, and has been in detention since then despite several court rulings granting him bail. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja has on Thursday, November 6, giving the DSS a marching 24 hour order to release Sowore. But a day after he was released, members of the secret service attacked the court and abducted him once again.
The events of the past have, however, stirred an uproar and condemnation both locally and internationally. The U.S Department of Justice has condemned the development in strong terms, calling it “a threat to Nigerian democracy.”
In response to the condemnation, the Nigerian Government has issued a statement to address what many have described as ‘desecration of the court and ‘utter disregard for the rule of law.’
“The Presidency notes some of the insinuations in the media about the arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) of the agitator, Omoyele Sowore.
The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.
However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS.
Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.
He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.
He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.
No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.
Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.
He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.
Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.
To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.
Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.
Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.
The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.
Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in far away New York –
… and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu. This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.”
Meanwhile, Human rights lawyer and counsel to Sowore, Barr. Femi Falana (SAN) said he will be approaching the court to strike out the case. Speaking at the third edition of Compendium of High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria, organized by Human & Environmental Development Agenda HEDA, on Monday in Lagos, Mr. Falana told the press that the Government has decided to embark on media trial instead of presenting the defense counsel with copies of the crimes that Sowore was charged with, as directed by the court.
“The government has not shown any readiness in prosecuting Sowore,” he said. “We were told that Sowore went to Dubai to collect millions of dollars to overthrow the government. But the government discovered that Sowore has never been to Dubai before, and that aspect collapsed.
“So what the government is doing is to embark on media trial without giving any evidence in court.” He added.
Nevertheless, there is concern that even if court strikes out the case in February, the Government will, as in previous cases, disobey the order.