A member of the United States House of Representatives, Karen Bass, has demanded the release of Omoyele Sowore, a political activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters.
Mrs Bass, an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California’s 37th congressional district since 2013, in a statement disclosed that Mr Sowore’s continued detention violates a “fragment of his fundamental human right”.
Mr Sowore was arrested by Nigeria’s secret police on August 3 ahead of a planned #RevolutionNow protest against the government.
A 21-year-old, Olawale Bakare, was also arrested in Osogbo on August 5. They have both remained in SSS custody since then.
Both men are being tried for treasonable felony and ‘abusing’ President Muhammadu Buhari.
The demands of Mr Sowore included improved welfare for Nigerians and eradication of graft.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo on September 24 granted Mr Sowore bail but this was not complied with by the SSS.
On October 4, the Federal High Court, presided by Ijeoma Ojukwu, granted him another bail requesting that Mr Sowore produce two sureties who should deposit N50 million each to the court as part of his bail condition, with the total bail bond set at N100 million.
The court said Mr Sowore’s sureties must deposit tax clearance certificates for three years and documents of landed properties in Abuja. The sureties are also to deposit affidavit of means for their assets.
The court also ruled that when released after meeting his bail conditions, Mr Sowore should remain in Abuja till the case is determined while his co-accused, Mr Bakare, should not leave his place of residence in Osogbo except for the trial.
The defendants found the bail condition too stringent. Mr Sowore’s legal team led by Femi Falana approached the court for bail variation and on October 21, Justice Ojukwu reviewed the bail conditions earlier granted to the publisher.
She set aside the N50 million security deposit by one of the sureties and also reduced the N50 million bail of the second defendant, Mr Bakare.
The two defendants are yet to meet this condition as at the time of filing this report.
Call for release
Many Nigerians including his wife and several civil society organisations have demanded the release of Mr Sowore.
Mrs Bass, the U.S. lawmaker, said she is concerned about the continued detention of the activist as she argued that he has the right to protest under the law.
“Mr Sowore has the right to exercise freedom of expression and protest for change in a peaceful manner; he also has the right to peacefully assemble and voice opposition to the government. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right guaranteed under bother Nigerian and international law.
“I stand with the human rights and the international community in declaring that the continued detainment of Mr Omoyele Sowore is a flagrant violation of his human rights. I also stand with the international community in urging the AU and UN Special Rapporteurs to secure his immediate release from detention,” her statement read.