*Says CSOs to adopt Sowore as 'prisoner of conscience'
A network of international human rights organizations and coalitions
may soon adopt detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore
as a prisoner of conscience.
In a statement on Monday, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption
(CSNAC) said it was working with renown rights groups across the world
to ensure the Omoyele Sowore is adopted as a prisoner of conscience.
The statement signed by CSNAC Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, expressed
shock that the Nigerian authorities were making frivolous charges
against Sowore who has been in custody since August 5.
The group also called for the release of Olawale Bakare, a member of
Revolution Now arrested in Osogbo, Osun State on August 5, Publisher
of Cross Rivers Watch, Agba Jalingo and Ekanem Ekpo.
The last two were arrested by the police and are yet to be taken to court.
CSNAC said 'Reputable international right groups will soon adopt
Sowore as a Prisoner of Conscience unless the Federal Government
release him immediately.
He said, "The continuous detention of Mr. Sowore is an embarrassment
to Nigeria as a country. Everywhere we visit across the world people
are asking questions about Mr. Sowore's detention. Many people do not
understand the logic of laying charges of treason against Sowore
simply because he used the word revolution. His incarceration
continues to put a question mark on the credibility of the Nigerian
government. Democracy dies when the culture of debate and the
tradition of protest are lost."
CSNAC said the Nigerian government has beyond imaginations embarrassed
itself by charging Sowore with 'insulting the President'.
"It is even more ridiculous that he is being charged for insulting Mr.
President and also for money laundering where money was legitimately
transferred through the financial institutions. These are frivolous
charges aimed at seeking justification for his illegal arrest and
continuous detention," it said.
CSNAC said from indications, the Nigerian government was desperate to
press charges against Sowore and ensure he is jailed at all cost.
Suraju said Sowore was being hunted in part, due to series of
publications in Sahara Reporters that consistently exposed corrupt
practices in this and previous governments.
"Sowore is obviously a victim of vengeance. Corrupt politicians and
security chiefs whose dirty deals have consistently been exposed by
Sahara Reporters are looking for ways to settle scores. They think by
bringing down Sowore, Sahara Reporters will die.
"Its an illusion to think by keeping Sowore in jail, Sahara Reporters
will be off the global network. This is a mistake because Sahara
Reporters has assumed the status of an independent entity," he said.
CSNAC dismissed the charge of money laundering by the Department of
State Services, (DSS) saying it is an attempt to blackmail Sahara
Reporters and its publisher.
Sowore was arrested on August 5 in Lagos. The FG had obtained ex parte
order granting his detention for 45 days.
After keeping him for almost two months, he was charged with insulting
President Muhammadu Buhari during a live programme on AriseTV. The
government also accused him of treason.
He was also charged for transferring $19,975 from his personal account
to Sahara Reporters.