Nigeria’s attorney general on Tuesday ordered the release on bail of an ex-presidential candidate Omoyole Sowore, and a former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki.
For years, state security ignored several court orders that former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki be released. The agents also re-arrested activist and publisher of a U.S.-based online newspaper Omoyole Sowore in court on December 6 after a judge issued an ultimatum that he should be released.
“The two defendants are enjoined to observe the terms of their bail and refrain from engaging in any act that is inimical to public peace and national security as well as their ongoing trial which will run its course in accordance with the laws of the land,” Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said in a statement.
Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) welcomed the announcement of their release.
In a statement by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This is a positive step by the Nigerian government. We hope that this signals a change in direction in Nigeria towards full respect for the rule of law, tolerance and greater openness by the government that would allow citizens to effectively enjoy their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The activists said: “SERAP has consistently called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sowore, Olawale Bakare and other prisoners of conscience. The President Buhari government should now immediately withdraw all charges against Mr Sowore and Olaware Bakare and all others detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression. They should never have been charged in the first place.”
“We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Agba Jalingo and all those still detained on bogus charges, having spoken out in favour of greater democracy, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
“The government cannot continue to pick and choose which court orders to obey. All court orders must be immediately and fully obeyed. It should never be right for the government to selectively obey court orders.”
“The government should have immediately obeyed court orders releasing Sowore, Dazuki and others on bail.”
“The President Buhari government must cease the restrictions on the civic space, respect human rights, and immediately obey all outstanding court orders including at least four judgments obtained by SERAP. The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts involved.”
“The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, while the third judgment, by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, ordered the immediate release of details of payments of billions of naira to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.”
“The fourth judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris (as he then was), ordered President Buhari to prosecute senior lawmakers suspected of padding and stealing N481 billion from the 2016 budget. The court also ordered President Buhari to “direct the publication of the report of investigations by security and anti-corruption bodies into the alleged padding of the 2016 budget.”