With anger rising around the world, and a newspaper reverting to his former title of general rather than president, a reference to when he was a brutal military dictator in the 1980s before he returned to power in 2015 with new clothes as a civilian democrat but with the same old perverted mindset of an autocrat, General Muhammadu Buhari began to bow to pressure on Friday, ordering his attorney general and minister of justice to take over the illegal detention of Omoyole Sowore, a New Jersey-based journalist and activist detained since August 2019.
Mr. Sowore, a journalist activist based in New Jersey, met his bail conditions more than a month ago after he was arrested in August for calling for a social revolution in a country blessed by human and natural resources but cursed by poverty, corruption and rampant theft. However, the Buhari administration in violation of Nigerian laws refused to release him. It took a 24-hour ultimatum by a judge to release him, only for secret service agents to invade the court hours later to rearrest him on December 6, triggering condemnation and anger around the world.
The Trump administration condemned the invasion of the court and rearrest of Sowore, saying that Mr. Buhari should respect the rule of law.
On Friday, the Nigerian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, directed the Department of State Security Service to hand off further prosecution of Sowore. He said he will now handle the case himself.
It is expected that the handing over is to find a way out of a self-made and self-inflicted crisis that has tarnished Mr. Buhari, a former military dictator overthrown in 1985 in similar circumstances as now.
He said the case file should be transmitted to his office for further action, adding that the directive is to allow proper investigation into recent development which led to the invasion of court premises while effecting the arrest of Omoyele Sowore.
The Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Umar Gwandu made the disclosure on Friday.
Gwandu said the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, on behalf of the Attorney General has written to the Director General of DSS, Yusuf Bichi, asking for a “prompt transfer” of the case file to the ministry.
“The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon a further review of the case, has directed the immediate takeover of the prosecution of all charges in respect of Omoyole Sowore by the Federal Ministry of Justice, in line with the provisions of Sections 150(1) and 174 (1) (a-c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had granted bail to Sowore and gave DSS a 24 hour ultimatum to release him and bring him to court.
DSS complied with the court order only for its operatives to storm the courtroom in a gestapo fashion, with guns, even while Justice Ojukwu was sitting and presiding over the affairs of the court.