A group, African Renaissance Organisation, has sent a petition to the United States Department of State over the continued detention of rights activist, Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019 by operatives of the Department of State Services for urging Nigerians to pour out to the streets and protest bad leadership in the country.
Despite growing calls for his release, the convener of RevolutionNow movement has continued to be held by the secret police.
Condemning the situation, convener of ARO, Onyinye Chuks, urged the US Government to prevail on the Nigerian Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and all others arrested during the RevolutionNowprotest on August 5 across most parts of the country.
According to Chuks, Sowore’s continued detention not only breaches his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution but also falls short of expectations under a democratic government.
He said, “We write to call the attention of the good people and government of the United States of America to the worrisome developments in Nigeria, particularly the increasing threats to democratic freedom, and the gradual rise of tyranny under the current government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We recognise the enduring political, economic, and military ties between Nigeria and the United States; ties we must now invoke in hopes of halting our nation’s steady descent into full-scale despotism.
“Under Buhari’s watch, Nigerians have grown poorer, more insecure, and far more divided than at any other time since the birth of our republic.
“The government’s war on corruption has since been exposed as a scam designed to scare and cudgel opposition elements into subservience.
“In reality, President Buhari has not only demonstrated tolerance for corruption, he has fully embraced it.
“Credible allegations of embezzlement and corrupt enrichment against his closest lieutenants, including army chief, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, party chiefs, Godswill Akpabio and Orji Kalu, among others, have been swept under the carpet.
“Dismayed by President Buhari’s vapid and extremely reactionary leadership, a new generation of Nigerians led by Omoyele Sowore, publisher, activist, and leader of the African Action Congress, resolved to exercise their democratic rights to protest their government, and ensure the preservation of our constitutional democracy.
“Using the hashtag #RevolutionNow, Sowore whose contributions to Nigeria’s democratic journey are well documented, mobilised Nigerians for nationwide protests to demand fundamental changes in government policies and actions to reflect the yearnings and aspirations of our people.
“Unfortunately, in response to Sowore’s calls for protests, the Buhari government has unleashed a reign of authoritarian terror and state brutality reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship in our country.
“On the eve of the protests, armed and fully masked men from the Department of State Services broke into Sowore’s home, unlawfully arresting and detaining him.
“Thereafter, they proceeded to clamp down on thousands of unarmed citizens who poured into the streets on August 5 to join the protests.
“Ostensibly acting on presidential orders, the police shot sporadically into the protests, injuring hundreds of people and arresting dozens for merely exercising their democratic rights to change the direction of their government.
“Sowore and other arrested activists have now spent more than 22 days in brutal DSS detention facilities as the Buhari government feverishly seeks even the remotest strand of evidence to bring trumped-up charges of treason and felony against them for daring to express their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely assemble.
“We insist that Sowore and other detained activists are not criminals but brave patriots who left their personal comforts to champion the cause of change for our people to challenge the broken system that keeps chasing our citizens to foreign shores as all hopes of a decent life in our country are extinguished by selfish and inept leaders recycled every four years through severely flawed electoral system to question an obscenely inequitable resource allocation system which ensures that our parliamentarians are the highest paid in the world, earning several times the compensation of US congressmen despite our economy being a mere 1/47th the size of the US economy.
“Finally, we believe that the strategic position of Nigeria as a regional force whose stability, security and prosperity aligns with the US national security interests cannot be overemphasised.
“We urge the US Government to prevail on President Buhari and his minders to immediately and unconditionally release Omoyele Sowore and other unlawfully detained activists.”