Nigeria: Buhari Out to Destroy Civic Space, Says Sowore

Photo: Vanguard
Omoyele Sowore, an activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election.
15 November 2019

Detained social activist, publisher and politician, Omoyele Sowore, has spoken out from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), saying that his detention is part of a grand scheme by President Muhammadu Buhari's administration to shut down Nigeria's civic space.

Sowore called a PREMIUM TIMES' reporter yesterday afternoon, in a rare move to directly send out a message to the public.

It was a message of courage, defiance and hope for both his teeming supporters and the Nigerian downtrodden people.

He said he would remain undeterred by the controversial tactics of the current government, which have seen him held in perpetual custody against the order of a federal judge.

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES from custody, Sowore said the demand for his sureties was an attempt to intimidate them into pulling out.

"Their aim is to intimidate my sureties by subjecting them to undue maltreatment," Sowore said. "It is part of a grand plot to hold me hostage because they have failed to find anything illegal to pin on me."

"But we know what they want to do and we will not allow it to happen," he added.

Although the DSS has repeatedly asserted its respect for the Nigerian judicial and the rule of law in general, the agency has a history of repression, violation of citizens' rights and disobedience of court decisions.

Sowore said that he had "not seen sunshine since he was detained except when taken to court." Only three people have been allowed to see him since August 3, which includes his lawyers and the person responsible for his feeding.

Even though Sowore said he cannot wait to reunite with his associates and loved ones, he said he had come to a fresh realisation that the DSS would continue to disregard court pronouncements and would not release him anytime soon.

"Last night, they gave us phones and cable TV," Sowore said. "This indicates that they have no intention of complying with court orders to release me anytime soon."

Sowore said he will continue to fight for the downtrodden, and wanted the world to know that the Buhari's administration has been stifling civil liberties in Nigeria.

"The world should know that I remain unbroken and in high spirits," Sowore said. "I will continue to fight for the Nigerian people, ensure that the people are not shortchanged and corruption is driven underground."

"I will continue to stand up for the downtrodden," he said.

Sowore said all those who support him should not be discouraged because the masses will prevail in the battle against anti-democratic forces.

"The ultimate mission is to intimidate all critical voices and shut down the nation's civic space," Sowore said. "But this will not happen and we shall overcome."

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