PEN International, one of the world’s first international non-governmental organisations advocating for human rights, has decried the repression of freedom of expression and shrinking of civic space in Nigeria.

The first worldwide association of writers also called for the release of Omoyele Sowore, Agba Jalingo and all other journalists arrested in the line of duty in Nigeria.

PEN International also called on the Nigerian Government to uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution, by releasing journalists detained for peacefully expressing themselves via their work or activism.

“The detention of journalists such as Agba Jalingo, for what they have written is a worrying indication of the Nigerian authorities’ increasing intolerance of those who criticise the government or raise difficult questions about matters of public interest,” said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee. 

“It is absurd that the authorities are prosecuting him; they should instead investigate the allegations he has raised and promptly release him without charge.

“As well as Jalingo, Omoyele Sowore, a high-profile journalist and publisher of the online news website Sahara Reporters, and a human rights activist, remains in detention in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, despite a court order to release him and having met his bail conditions.

“The DSS has so far refused to release him on bail, despite two court orders to do so – the DSS have ignored a September court order ruling that he should be released pending his trial, and failed to comply with a November court order calling for his release once he had met his bail conditions.

“On November 12, journalists covering protests by activists calling for Sowore’s release outside the DSS headquarters in Abuja, as well as the protesters themselves were reportedly harassed and attacked by DSS officials.

“As a body of writers, we are concerned about the implications for the Nigerian people of these systematic acts of repression.”

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