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Detention of Sowore, others shows pattern of repression by Nigerian authorities -Amnesty International


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THE Amnesty International (AI) says the detention of Omoyele Sowore and four other persons has demonstrated the continued pattern of repression by the Nigerian government.

Sowore, together with Juwon Sanyaolu, Peter Williams, Emmanuel Bulus and Damilare Adenola, was arrested following a protest in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on the eve of New Year.

They were first arraigned before Taye Maibel at the Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, on Monday, 4th January, by the police after spending four nights in detention on three counts of unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance.

The court, however, ordered them to be remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre pending the consideration of their bail applications on Tuesday, 5th January. They were later brought to Magistrates’ Court, Wuse, in handcuffs on Tuesday morning but were again ordered by the court to be transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department at Garki Area 10, Abuja, after the prosecuting counsel raised an objection to their bail applications.

Their bail applications, which were scheduled for Friday, were stalled following the failure of the prosecuting team to produce the accused persons in court.

Marshal Abubakar, lawyer to the accused persons, expressed frustrations in the court premises after he was informed by the court that the police had handed the case file to a deputy inspector-general (DIG) for further prosecution.

The lawyer said the DIG, who was called to produce the defendants, claimed to have handed the case file to the director of public prosecution on the instruction of the attorney general of the federation, Malami Abubakar.

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However, in a series of tweets on Saturday, Amnesty International noted that it was appalled by the delay tactics the government was employing to frustrate their bail so as to perpetually keep them in detention.

Read also: Boko Haram: Amnesty International indicts Nigerian Army of crimes against older people in Northeast

It called for the immediate release of the activists and demanded that the charges against them be dropped.

This is not the first time Sowore would be arrested and arbitrarily detained for leading protests.

In 2019, he was illegally abducted and detained by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) for planning to stage the RevolutionNow protest, which called for an end to bad governance in Nigeria.

After much pressure from within and from members of the international community, Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government released him from illegal detention.
He is currently being arraigned in court on ridiculous charges bordering on money laundering, treasonable felony and cyberstalking.

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Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

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