United States lawmakers have written a letter to Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, over the continued detention of pro-democracy campaigner and journalist, Omoyele Sowore.
The lawmakers said Nigeria under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to be an example of respect for the rule of law on the African continent.
The letter was signed by six lawmakers including Robert Menendez (senator), Charles Schumer (senator), Cory Booker (senator), Christopher Coons (senator), Bill Pascrell (congressman) and John Gotheirmer (congressman).
The lawmakers expressed strong concern that Sowore was not getting the right to a fair trial but is rather being illegally detained by the government.
The statement reads in part, “Disturbing videos of the melee in court are circulating, which appear to show armed agents in court and Mr Sowore being placed in choke hold after which he was re-detained by DSS, though no new charges have since been filed to justify this re-detention.
"We understand that his case has since been placed within your purview.
“We are pleased to stand alongside Nigeria as a democratic country.
"As the largest democracy in Africa, Nigeria has an opportunity and responsibility to serve as model for following the established rule of law under its own constitution.
"And as with all advanced democracies, this includes the lawful application of prosecutorial powers and actions as well as ultimate compliance with judicial rulings. In the case of Mr Sowore, this does not appear to have happened.”
The lawmakers said Nigeria must learn to uphold basic human rights of citizens including their “freedom of expressions and political affiliation without fear of government reprisal and harassment, particularly for opposing or dissenting voices."
Speaking further, the lawmakers said, “Mr Attorney General, we request that you take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of Mr Sowore while he is held in government custody; work to facilitate speedy and fair resolution to the circumstances of his re-detention; and ensure he receives a legally sound and credible trial.”
Sowore was rearrested on December 6 less than 24 hours after he was granted bail.
He remains detained arbitrarily without being given a reason.