Nigeria: Sowore - Wole Soyinka Centre Protests 'Impunity', Postpones Award to Osinbajo

Omoyele Sowore was rearrested in court by agents from the Department of State Security (DSS) the day after he was released on court order.
9 December 2019

In a protest against the treatment of Omoyele Sowore, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has postponed the presentation of an award to the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

According to Motunrayo Alaka, the centre's director, on Monday, the postponement was aligned with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times.

" ... especially the incidence between the Department of State Security (DSS) and @YeleSowore, Publisher of @SaharaReporters, on Friday 6 December. #WSAIR2019," the tweet announcing the postponement read.

The centre said "the Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point."

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Osinbajo and six other lawyers in President Muhammadu Buhari's cabinet have kept mum over acts of human rights violations carried out by the current government. Mr Osinbajo is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Embattled activist

Mr Sowore is facing a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Buhari.

On different occasions, the court had ruled that the duo be granted bail, but the SSS operatives failed to obey the court orders.

Mr Sowore, who was arrested on August 3 by the SSS for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag #RevolutionNow, was granted bail for the second time on October 18.

SSS did not respect a previous bail granted the defendant on September 24.

Mr Sowore was released Thursday night but rearrested on Friday morning.

This newspaper reported how armed SSS officials stormed the premises of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to forcefully rearrest Mr Sowore.

The SSS is notorious for disobeying court orders including those in favour of a National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki and Shiite leader Ibrahim El-zakzaky, who have been illegally detained despite court orders granting them bail.

A recent report noted that attacks on the press and free speech had heightened under the current administration of Mr Buhari, an ex-military head of state.

Award

The award presentation programme will hold as scheduled on Monday by 6 p.m., the release added.

About 13 journalists from print, online, television, radio, photo, and editorial cartoon categories will be celebrated.

Veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole and Amnesty international will also be presented honorary awards of the Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence and the Anti-Corruption Defender Award (Human Rights Specialty) respectively. Mr Osinbajo was to receive an award in the latter category.

The WSCIJ holds the award presentation event on December 9, the World Anti-corruption day and eve of the World Human Rights Day to highlight the importance of investigative reporting as a tool for accountability, good governance and social justice in a democracy.

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