Nigerian activists warn Buhari against transferring New Jersey-based publisher Omoyele Sowore from DSS custody to prison

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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the news making rounds and publicly confirmed by a Constitutional and Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, about Federal Government’s application to the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order of transfer of the two detainees of #Revolution Now protest, Omoyele Sowore and Adebayo Bakare, aka Mandate, from the custody of the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) to prison.

In a release issued by the National Coordinator of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he stated, “It would be recalled that the two detainees, Sowore Omoyele and Adebayo Bakare (Mandate) were separately picked up by agents for the Nigerian Secret Police shortly before the commencement of his call for protest against what he called, ‘the unbearable socioeconomic situation in the country’ on August 3, 2019. where he requested for Nigerians to peacefully declare their displeasure at the high cost of living, insecurity and other social problems which he believed were not being appropriately tackled by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration; and hash-tagged ‘#Revolution Now, #Days of Rage to call the attention of the government to the downward spiral of their living conditions.

“Afterwards, the duo has been charged to court on treasonable felony and other related offences on two (2) separate occasions and has been likewise granted bail by their presiding judges, after satisfying what has been termed, stringent bail conditions on the second appearance by Justice Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja. Just as we noted in previous statements, the rights to protest and associate are fundamental rights in any society and adequately made provisions for under relevant sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) except where the gladiators or leaders of such protest could be proven to have harboured any violent intentions with a force of arms or public coercion, a situation the government has never been able to establish in this instance. It is also worrisome that on two separate occasions, the accused have been granted bail by same courts government set up and paraded them before. The rights to bail and respect for Separation of power are clear areas of jurisprudence which no government or its agency must be seen to take fancy in trampling upon or regard with levity, especially under a democratic setting whereby the subsisting government derives its legitimacy from.

“As things stand today, the two accused have been declared as #Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International, global rights advocacy group and treated as such by the international community with the American Congress calling for their immediate and unconditional release. All these do not portend a good omen for our burgeoning democracy or international image in a more shrinking global village the international arena has turned to. It is against this backdrop that CACOL as a partner in the quest for deepening our democracy and fostering good governance, hereby call for immediate respect for the judicial pronouncement on the accused by their release. We agree with the argument of their lawyers and the general opinion that the request of the DSS for the appearance of their sureties at its headquarters for their onward release was an afterthought and has no precedence in law.

“The CACOL Boss added, “While we do not subscribe to any undue calls or semblance of violent request for overthrow or termination of an existing, especially a democratically elected government, irrespective of our flawed the process has been; since the courts exist to adjudicate on such for smooth and orderly transmission of power, it is our belief that the accused were only motivated by the subsisting and existential economic conditions prevalent and had no intention or record of violent disruption of government. It is for this that we advise an immediate and fence-mending approach that would restore dignity and respect to governance while critical efforts must be made towards redressing age-old situation that has made Nigeria to hibernate between a workable federation to a troubled contraption.”

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