International rights group, Amnesty International, has declared human rights activists – Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo – as prisoners of conscience following their arbitrary detention and unfair trials for exercising their rights.
The group in statement by its Head of Media and Communication for Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, said, “The Nigerian authorities at both federal and state levels have repeatedly targeted human rights defenders, activists and journalists including by stifling dissenting voices and passing repressive legislation to restrict the civic space.”
AI added that despite meeting their stringent bail conditions, the State Security Service had continued to refuse to obey a court order to release Sowore and Bakare, while Jalingo’s bail applications have been repeatedly and unjustifiably rejected.
It added, “We consider Sowore, Jalingo and Bakare to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for exercising their human rights.
“The Nigerian authorities must drop all charges against them and release them immediately and unconditionally.
“Sowore, Jalingo and Bakare’s continued detention is a matter of shame for Nigeria.
“Their cases show just how far the authorities in Nigeria can go to silence critics.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari needs to stop filing bogus and politically motivated charges against critics, and start listening to what they have to say.
“The authorities must stop using the security agents and judiciary as a tool for persecuting people who voice dissenting opinions, challenge abuse and call for accountability.
“The flawed charges and sham trials of Sowore, Jalingo and Bakare expose the inadequacies and bizarre manipulation of the Nigerian criminal justice system and an unacceptable contempt for the rule of law and human rights.”
Sowore was arrested in Lagos on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand a better country from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The government has accused him of insulting President Buhari and planning to bring down his government - charges observers around the world including leading legal practitioners describe as frivolous and laughable.