Detained political activist and publisher of Sahara Reporter online news platform, Omoyele Sowore, has embarked on a hunger strike over the refusal of the State Security Service (SSS) to set him free after meeting his bail conditions.
In a text message to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, his lawyer, Femi Falana, said Mr Sowore has refused to eat or see anybody.
Mr Sowore has been in detention since August 3 when he was arrested two days to the Revolution Now protest his group was organising in Nigeria.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) he has refused to come down. He has refused to see anybody and this is in protest that his rights are being violated.
“He has not eaten because the DSS don’t feed him and he is rejecting food from the people who usually take food to him in detention.”
Mr Falana explained that the detained activist insisted on not seeing anyone, including the people who take his food to him in prison “because there is a court order asking for him to be released, the second one, so he is protesting this.”
Falana Threatens to sue SSS
In a related development, Mr Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has threatened legal action against the SSS, for refusing to release Mr Sowore.
The human rights activist was arrested and detained on allegations of a treasonable felony after he organised the nationwide protest with the hashtag #RevelutionNow.
He was granted bail on October 4 for the second time after an initial one in September by another judge was not honoured by the SSS.
Mr Sowore said the conditions for the October 4 bail were stringent and approached the court for a variation.
Though the court varied Mr Sowore’s second bail on October 21, he could not immediately meet the new conditions. Mr Falana informed the court on Wednesday during Mr Sowore’s trial that the activist had met his bail conditions.
The judge later confirmed he had met the bail conditions and signed that Mr Sowore should be released.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Mr Falana said it was the second time the SSS would ignore a court order to release Mr Sowore.
“On 8th August 2019, the Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted the application of the State Security Service to detain Mr Omoyele Sowore for 45 days.
“Upon the expiration of the 45-day detention period the court granted Mr Sowore bail on September 24, 2019. He met the bail conditions but the State Security Service refused to release him from custody.
“Mr Sowore and Mandate Bakare were subsequently charged with treasonable felony, cyberstalking and money laundering on September 30, 2019.”
Mr Falana in the statement said the court again granted the duo bail and that upon meeting the bail conditions the judge ordered the SSS to release them.
“The trial judge, the Honourable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, admitted the defendants to bail under very stringent conditions. Upon meeting the bail conditions, Justice Ojukwu directed the State Security Service to release the defendants from detention.
“But in utter contempt of the orders of Justice Ojukwu the State Security Service has refused to release Messrs Sowore and Bakare from custody.
“Since the State Security Service is not above the law of the land we shall embark on appropriate legal measures to ensure compliance with the court orders,” the lawyer said.