U.S. lawmaker condemns harassment, rearrest of Sowore

A U.S lawmaker, Robert Menendez. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Ywitter handle of Bob Menendez]
A U.S lawmaker, Robert Menendez. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Ywitter handle of Bob Menendez]

A U.S lawmaker, Robert Menendez, on Friday condemned the harassment and rearrest of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, by officials of the State Security Service.

Mr Menendez is the ranking member (most senior Democrat) of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the United States.

The SSS on Friday rearrested Mr Sowore on the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja a day after he was released from their custody.

Mr Sowore and another activist, Olawale Bakare, were released on Thursday night on the order of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu having spent 124 days in SSS custody.

Officials of the SSS forced their way into the courtroom and rearrested him a day later.

“I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression,” Mr Menendez said in a statement Friday.

“In a concerted effort to secure his release on behalf of the Sowore family living in New Jersey, my office has been working closely with the State Department as Mr Sowore’s case languished following his arbitrary arrest back in August. While we continue to seek immediate answers about Mr Sowore’s treatment and conditions in jail, I will be further engaging directly with U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard in Abuja to raise this case

at the highest levels of the Nigerian government so the Buhari Administration gets the message that we are committed to defending Mr Sowore’s rights and securing hisr elease.

“This blatant miscarriage of justice is symptomatic of closing political and media spacei n Nigeria.”

The statement said last month, Mr Menendez and Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey sent a private letter to the Head of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to press the Nigerians to free people working in the civil and media space.

The letter specifically cited Omoyele Sowore’s case.

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