There is growing fear among supporters and family members over the state of health of pro-democracy campaigner and journalist, Omoyele Sowore, after the 48-year-old activist was struck by an unidentified man in court in Abuja on Friday morning.
Sowore had arrived early to stand trial in the case brought against him by the Nigerian Government accusing him of insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and planning to bring down his regime.
Midway through at the Federal High Court, heavily-armed operatives of the Department of State Services abruptly disrupted the proceedings, forcing presiding judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, to run for safety.
Sowore was attacked and flung to the ground, where the yet-to-be-identified man, dressed in a lawyer’s robes but suspected to be a DSS agent, reached down and hit him in the neck with something.
Upon noticing that he had been hit with something strange in the neck, the videos show Sowore turning around swiftly to query why the strange man was hitting him.
“Why did you hit me? What did you hit me with?” Sowore asked, before adding, “Who is this guy?”
In various video footages of the chaos in the courtroom analysed by SaharaReporters, the tall man is seen holding and trying to pull Sowore to the ground from the chair he was seated.
FLASH: There is growing fear among supporters and family members over the state of health of pro-democracy campaigner and journalist, Omoyele Sowore, after the 48-year-old activist was struck by an unidentified man in court in Abuja on Friday morning. #FreeSowore #FreeSoworeNow pic.twitter.com/lZV4Sa9zHj— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) December 6, 2019
While other supporters in the courtroom successfully pulled the journalist away from his attacker after several minutes of being rough-handled, the strange man was seen attempting to hurriedly walk away from the scene.
He was held back by Sowore’s supporters and other lawyers in court, who questioned him on his true identity and mission.
The strange man, acting suspiciously, made several attempts to wriggle his way through the angry witnesses but was held back and asked to explain why he had hit Sowore with an unknown substance on the neck in an apparent attempt to harm him.
The people accused him of trying to kill Sowore through an already laid out plan by ‘forces in high places’.
When SaharaReporters checked with several lawyers and court officials around, it was revealed that the strange man in question was not a legal practitioner and had not been previously seen around the court despite dressing as one.
With Friday’s strange development, it is to be recalled that Sowore has expressed concern that the Nigerian Government is planning to kill him.
He said, “When they (a delegation from President Buhari) visited me in detention offering me all kinds and I refused, they promised that I will not walk out of their detention alive and that is what they came here to implement today.”
Following Friday’s development, there is renewed worry among family members, supporters and associates of the journalist that his life may no longer be safe especially after he was rearrested by the DSS less than 24 hours after he was released from detention.
While his trial was ongoing on Friday morning, the security agency went ahead to file fresh charges against him without the knowledge of his lawyers led by Femi Falana (SAN).
Falana while confirming that they had not been served details of the fresh charges by the DSS, condemned the attack and forceful re-arrest of his client, describing the entire situation as a slap on the rule of law.
Sowore was first arrested on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to pour into the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand a better country from the administration of President Buhari.
But angered by his effrontery to speak truth to power, the 48-year-old is being held after being accused of insulting Buhari and planning to bring down his government.
The journalist was granted bail twice and ordered to be released by the DSS after meeting stringent conditions, but the agency refused to obey those directives.