Human RightsNews

Nigerians Demand Release of Sowore, Other Activists, Arrested On New Year’s Eve

Many Nigerians have continued to condemn the unlawful arrest of Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, and other activists who were arrested by Nigerian security forces on new year’s eve.

Sowore and other activists were arrested at Gudu junction in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital during a peaceful protest tagged #CrossoverWithProtest, and are currently being detained at Abattoir police station, Abuja.

The former presidential candidate had earlier called for a peaceful crossover procession to demand an end to bad governance and insecurity plaguing the country.

Its was reported that Sowore and other activists were almost done with the procession when security operatives descended on them.

He was reported brutalised before being dragged into one of the seven vehicles mobilised to the protest ground by the police.

The police have not commented on the arrest.

While he has spent a night in police custody, Civil Society Organisations like Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Amnesty International, Coalition for Revolution (CORE) have berated his illegal arrest on new year eve, demanding an immediate release of the activists.

“Our position is always clear in matters like this; since the authorities have him in their possession, they should respect the constitution which is very clear. If you arrest someone based on a known crime, charge the person within 24 or 48 hours as the case may be,” Amnesty International reacted.

“But most importantly, they should ensure that his human rights are respected throughout this process and comply with the constitution and international human rights laws.”

Nigerians have also taken to social media, especially the microblogging site, Twitter, to trend the hashtag #FreeSowore.

Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer, bemoaned the continued abuse of democratic principles by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, stating that the unlawful arrest of the publisher and other activists is uncalled for.

“The Buhari regime has no idea how democracy works. These deceitful proponents of change are determined to kill whatever is left of democracy in Nigeria. A peaceful protest is now an act of terrorism. Arresting Sowore and other protesters is a silly act of dictatorship. #FreeSowore,” Effiong wrote on Twitter/

Debo Adebayo, Comedian and social media influencer popularly known as Mr Macaroni said the arrest of the activists was contrary to President Buhari’s resolution to tackle the myriads of challenges facing the country.

“The president said in his new year broadcast that he will face the challenges in the country with renewed determination. Is this the renewed determination?? The Government wants to kick off 2021 by oppressing Nigerians. We won’t be Silent!!! #FreeSowore,” Adebayo said.

“A Coupist will always be afraid of every assembly of oppressed people. The @MBuhari regime is in serious panic mood and wants to intimidate everyone into silence but it will fail woefully as usual. We refused to be intimidated! #FreeSowore,” Towolawi Jamiu @jharmo wrote.

This was reinforced by @TheIOShowa who said “Coupist Buhari who ought to be behind bars for overthrowing a democratically elected president in 1983, romanced Abacha while the likes of @YeleSowore fought against Military dictators, is arresting anyone that criticises his poor handling of Nigeria. #FreeSoworeNow.”

Oguntola Sunday @oguntolasunday2 enjoined Nigerians to summon the courage to demand an end to injustice and bad governance. He said: “When we tolerate the injustice being done, then it gives the offender the courage to continue with that behaviour. Unless we raise our voice for justice the situation will not change. We need to stand up for what we believe in, even if that means standing alone #FreeSoworeNow”

Sowore was also arrested in a Gestapo style when men of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) stormed his house on August 3, 2019, for calling for a protest. He went on to spend over 100 days in custody despite different court orders for his release.

He was accused of planning to overthrow President Buhari and was arraigned for crimes bordering on money laundering, treason among others.

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Abiodun Jamiu

Abiodun is an investigations reporter at HumAngle. His works focus on the intersection of public policy and development, conflict and humanitarian crisis, climate and environment. He was a 2022 Solution Journalism Fellow with Nigeria Health Watch under its Solution Journalism Africa initiative project.

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