The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the State Security Service (SSS) over its attempt on Friday to rearrest the publisher of Sahara Reporters online news platform, Omoyele Sowore, in a courtroom.
The coalition is an alliance of media and civil society organisations, including Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Sahara Reporters (SR), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), The Cable and Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
Officials of the SSS on Friday rearrested Mr Sowore after invading the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja, less than 24 hours after he was released by the agency from 124-day detention.
The coalition called on President Muhammadu Buhari to punish the agents involved in the attack on the court as well as the agency’s leadership.
It said this is to assure Nigerians and the international community that the officials were not acting under the president’s instructions and that his government does not condone their actions.
In a statement signed by Stephanie Adams, the group’s media officer on Saturday, the coalition said the failure of President Buhari and his government to take immediate and decisive action would put a permanent blemish on the administration’s human rights record.
The coalition described the action of the SSS operatives who invaded the court as an assault on the authority and independence of the judiciary.
It said prior to the release of Messrs Sowore and Olawale Bakare on Thursday, the SSS had refused to release the activists for months, despite orders for their release on bail issued by different judges of the Federal High Court.
It described the action of the agency as an unacceptable violation of the principles of the rule of law in a constitutional democracy.
The coalition called on the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to investigate the human rights situation in Nigeria, warning that the country is rapidly descending into totalitarianism and tyranny.
The coalition said any delay by the international community in taking firm action to address the Nigerian situation could result in a violent conflict in Africa’s most populous nation, which would constitute a grave threat to international peace and security, particularly in the region.