Nigeria: More American Senators Demand Sowore's Release

13 December 2019

More American lawmakers continue to raise concern over the continued detention of Omoyele Sowore, a political activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters.

The Nigerian presidency, wary of international criticisms, accused foreign governments of interfering in Nigeria's affairs by questioning Mr Buhari's respect for the rule of law.

A presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, on Wednesday asked foreign countries to stop interfering in Nigeria's affairs, especially on the issue of human rights abuses.

He disclosed this while reacting to reports from the EU, UK and the U.S. that they were concerned about Nigeria's disrespect for the rule of law including in its treatment of Mr Sowore.

However, many foreign lawmakers continue to criticise the Nigerian government over the re-arrest and detention of Mr Sowore on treason charges by the State Security Services (SSS).

He was arrested on August 3 for planning a #RevolutionNow protest against poor governance. He spent over 100 days in detention alongside his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, despite two court orders mandating their release much earlier.

The duo were released a day before their court hearing last Friday. But the SSS operatives invaded the courtroom to re-arrest the political activist.

The activities of the secret police already sparked nationwide furore and international criticism against Mr Buhari's government.

On Tuesday, Chris Coons, a U.S. senator spoke out about Mr Sowore's re-arrest. Mr Coons is the Vice-Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations.

He said in a tweet that he is "concerned that this case is representative of closing of political and media space in Nigeria. Civil society leaders and human rights defenders should be celebrated, not persecuted, in Nigeria and around the world."

"I'm deeply concerned by the harassment and repeated detainment of Nigerian activist, journalist, and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore. I urge Nigerian security services to respect due process and the rule of law, release Sowore per his bail terms, and launch an investigation into his re-arrest."

Again on Thursday, a senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, asked Mr Buhari to honour previous court rulings. He also expressed dissatisfaction over Mr Sowore's continued detention.

"I am disheartened by reports that Omoyele Sowore--activist, journalist, American citizen--was re-arrested by Nigeria's government. President Buhari should heed the previous court rulings, and international sentiment, and immediately free Omoyele Sowore now."

Before now, PREMIUM TIMES reported how Bob Menendez, a member of the United States Senate's Foreign Relations Committee and Josh Gotthiemer wrote to the Nigerian ambassador in the U.S., Sylvanus Nsofor, over the continuous detention of the political activist.

In the letter dated November 25 and made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the congressmen said there have been a number of troubling reports about Nigeria's security agencies assaulting and detaining journalists. Mr Menendez in another video and public statement promised US intervention over the case.

Also, in October, a member of the United States House of Representatives, Karen Bass, said the act of the DSS to Mr Sowore violates a "fragment of his fundamental human right".

Apart from Mr Sowore, the Nigerian government is also illegally detaining many others including a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky.

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