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Charges against Sowore improbable…show ‘unprecedented level of paranoia’—Soyinka

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NOBEL laureate and professor of creative writing, Wole Soyinka, has described the charges filed against Sahara Reporters founder Omoyele Sowore as improbable and a sign that government “has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia”.

In a press statement sent to The ICIR on Saturday, the renowned playwright and essayist described the news as depressing and said he at first thought it to be a product of misinformation.

“This is utterly depressing news. So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction,” he said.

“Outside the country where I happened to be engaged at the moment, I can testify that the immediate reaction around me was to dismiss this as yet another grotesque product of Fake News, of which Nigerians have become the greatest practitioners. I confess that I also joined in this school of thought — at the start.”

He added: “Further checks have however confirmed that this government has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.”

Soyinka said he does believe the Justice Department, referring to the Attorney-General’s office, truly believes in the “improbable charges, as formally publicised”.

“So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, history still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn,” he concluded.

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“Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.”

On Friday, the Federal Government filed a seven-count charge against Sowore, including treasonable felony, insulting the president, and money laundering. He was arrested at about 11 pm on August 2 by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and has since been in detention.

Soyinka himself was charged with treason under the military regime of Sani Abacha. “We learned the decision to try us on treason charges had been taken before the recent violence … The whole thing is orchestrated. Abacha is trying to get rid of us,” the Nobel laureate, who was in California at the time, had said in his reaction.

In an interview granted in August, Soyinka had said justice is as important to him as air is to humanity.

“I find it indistinguishable from the nutrients that human beings require to live. If I step out of my house and there is some horrendous violation being done to another human being, I feel myself reduced, and for the rest of the day, maybe the rest of the week, I’m not really whole. It preys on my mind,” he explained.

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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