Nigeria: Sowore Alleges Plot to Re-Arrest Him Over Coronavirus Report

Rights activist and publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, has accused the Nigerian government of plotting to detain him over his report on the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, testing positive for COVID-19.

In a message posted on his Facebook page on Thursday, Mr Sowore said his lawyers had informed him of a delegation sent to the Federal High Court in Abuja to obtain a detention order.

The story of Mr Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari's Chief of Staff testing positive for the pandemic coronavirus, was first reported on Monday.

Mr Kyari is believed to have contracted the disease earlier in the month in Germany, which has a high number of cases and has banned public gatherings, limiting such to a maximum of two people.

Mr Sowore, in his post, said there were indications that the federal government is planning to secure a court order against him by using the Nigerian military his Abuja residence.

On Monday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Tanko Mohammed had ordered the suspension of all court sittings except in matters that are urgent, for 14 days because of COVID-19.

He wrote, "Folks, it is important to inform you that we are facing some unusual circumstances, and the days ahead might be very tense and difficult, but we will conquer.

"Following the revelation by SaharaReporters that the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, contracted Corona Virus and subsequent revelations about the criminal conducts/negligence that has brought Nigeria to the nadir of this global pandemic,

"The Buhari regime today sent some high powered delegation to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of NIGERIA to help procure a judge to grant a detention order against me.

"The courts are reportedly on break due to COVID-19 pandemic. This was leaked to our lawyers a few minutes ago. They plan this time is to use the Nigerian Army for the sinister plot.

"The plan is to obtain a court order and then send soldiers to shoot up my residence in Abuja by claiming that I resisted arrest with armed colleagues, if I am arrested alive they would take me to an Army Barracks in Abuja to be tortured and /or infected with COVID-19.

"I am not raising the alarm to scare anyone, it is to inform our compatriots that we should brace for difficult days ahead. However, rest assured that we are in high spirits and are totally convinced that we may be turning a historic corner in the face of brutal repression. I am urging all to stand firm, unbowed and unbroken."

Mr Sowore was arrested early August by the SSS in Lagos just ahead of the #RevolutionNow protests which he inspired months after losing the 2019 presidential election. He was later released in December alongside ex-National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunaya, directed the question to the presidency.

Efforts to reach the spokespersons for the presidency, Garba Shehu, the police, Frank Mba, and the AGF, Umar Gwandu, on the allegations were not successful. They did not respond to calls and text messages sent to them, as at the time of reporting.

Mr Gwandu, on his part, asked for the statement to be sent to his WhatsApp before he responds. He did not quickly revert after the statement had been sent.

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