Reactions have been trailing the release of Nigerian activist and Sahara Reporters’ Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, from the detention of the State Security Service (SSS) following a court order.
Mr Sowore was arrested on August 3 for organising a ‘revolutionary’ protest, known as #RevolutionNow and charged for ‘treasonable felony’ by the Nigerian government. He was released on bail on Tuesday by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Justice Taiwo Taiwo made the ruling that Mr Sowore should be released on bail since there was no extant order before the court allowing his detention.
In a statement, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), described Mr Sowore’s release as “a victory for the rule of law, human right and independence.”
The group’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said that the court ruling was a reminder of Nigeria’s constitutional and international obligations to protect journalists, activists and Nigerians, and to end the current practice of restricting the civic space.
“We hope this decision will make the Nigerian authorities and state governments to stop and reflect on their ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and media freedom including online, and also help out to put an end to other human rights violations of journalists and citizens in general. Other Journalists like Agba Jalingo and Ekanem Ekpo currently being detained, must be immediately and unconditionally released,” he said.
Mr Oluwadare called on the government to comply fully with the court ruling by releasing Mr Sowore immediately and withdrawing all charges against him so as to allow freedom of expression and media freedom to flourish.
“If the court found it possible to release Sowore, we are sure that all the circumstances were studied, and an objective decision was made,” he added.
Earlier, in a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, SERAP had raised concern over alleged suppression of freedom of expression, attacks on journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. It urged the Council to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained in connection with the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests across Nigeria from the Nigerian government.
Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook have also reacted to Mr Sowore’s bail as it makes waves on social media. While some share optimism toward Mr Sowore’s full release, many believe his bail may be another version of the federal government flouting court orders as in the case of Nigerian Shiites’ leader, Ibrahim Elzakyzaky and ex-National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
Former Minister of Education and former presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili @obyezeks, lauded the effort of Mr Sowore’s legal team, led by popular Human Rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, for securing his bail.
“Many thanks to @YeleSowore’s legal team by our dear Femi Falana-SAN for the successful outing today.
Great that the Judge ignored the Presidency and granted Bail to the convener of #RevolutionNow.
#AsoRock@NigeriaGov of @NGRPresident
@MBuhari better comply swiftly.
A twitter user, @kngslprince, with optimism tweeted:
“Kudos to the learned men who stood in for this development. hoping that the evil administration led by PMB will obey court orders.”
Another user, TolaseRaheem, tweeted with excitement:
“A great feat at that!”
A user, @sexyciara123, cautioned the recently released Mr Sowore in a tweet:
“I support his release.
But he must not go by the way of Revolution again!
What we need in Nigeria is to rise up against poverty and this must be done in a matured way!”
A Facebook user, Richard Chinatu, also commented:
“Don’t be surprised the Federal government may refuse to heed the court orders as they have been doing in the cases of Dasuki and ElZakZakky. They may claim he is a high-security risk. this is one government that has as a penchant for disobeying court orders.”
another Facebook user in support of the first poster said:
“Didn’t the court order for the release of ElZakZaki on bail? Was he released? Nigerian media should equally share the blame for the continued detention of ElZakZak through irresponsible reportage and at the end complicate Sowore’s matter to lead to prolonged detention.
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