A group, Inspire Nigeria, has condemned the deactivation of biometric identification of human rights activist and former Presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore.
The group described the development as “illegal” and an “affront” to Sowore’s fundamental rights.
Evong E.S.B, Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Nigeria, in a statement asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order immediate restoration of the identity instruments and issue a public apology to the activist.
The statement reads, “We understand that Omoyele Sowore’s international passport, national identity number, permanent voter card and driver’s licence have been deactivated. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate restoration of these identity instruments and cause a public apology to be issued to Sowore.
“Passport and the NIN in particular symbolise the citizen’s identity and are part of a citizen’s inalienable rights and should not be at the whims and caprices of any government to withdraw and restore as they please. Even despotic military regimes should never be able to do so, never mind a democratic government. It is not only illegal, but an affront to the concept of citizenship. If Sowore has committed any offence he should be prosecuted.
“There is no foreseeable circumstance under international or Nigerian law, in the event of a successful prosecution, that any Nigerian’s citizenship will be suspended or cancelled.
“The only provision for suspending or cancelling citizenship is found in section Chapter 3, section 30 of the Nigerian constitution, but this cannot apply to Sowore as he is a citizen by birth.”
SaharaReporters had reported that the Buhari’s regime deactivated all means of identification of the activist.
The documents deactivated include the activist’s national identity card, permanent voter card, international passport and driver license.
As a result of this, Sowore will not be able to use any of the national documents to carry out any transaction within and outside the country as the cards cannot be read biometrically.
President Buhari’s regime is yet to give any explanation for the move.
The latest attack on the activist by the Nigerian Government came days after SaharaReporters published an exclusive story revealing how a hacker had broken into the server of the National Identification Management Commission to steal personal information of over three million citizens.
It also comes weeks after the government attempted to freeze Sowore’s bank account domiciled with Guaranty Trust Bank – a development officials of the financial institution confirmed.
Recall that the activist’s account had first been frozen in August 2019 by the Department of State Services, Nigeria’s secret police notorious for violating rights of citizens, after the agency claimed he received huge funds from United Arab Emirates to overthrow the Buhari regime.
The allegation was later dropped when the DSS realised Sowore had never been to the United Arab Emirate.
In December 2021, the activist scored a landmark victory against the DSS over the seizure of his mobile phones and was awarded monetary damages of N2million.
However, the DSS has since refused to obey the court ruling, instead devising different tactics to eliminate Sowore, who has become a thorn in the flesh of the President Buhari administration.
Despite accusing him of planning to overthrow Buhari’s government by calling for a revolution, the Nigerian Government has failed to prove its case against the activist in court.
The government has adopted different means to keep the former presidential contestant out of circulation by confining him to Abuja through a court ruling and constantly harassing him.
Sowore was first arrested by the DSS on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets to protest against bad governance in the country.
He was briefly released on bail on December 5 but rearrested a few hours later on December 6 by DSS operatives while appearing for his trial in a case brought against him by the Nigerian Government.
He is being accused of insulting President Muhammadu Buhari and planning to bring down his regime.
In all, Sowore spent over four months in detention despite two court orders directing his release on bail during that period.