The meeting between a mediatory delegation and then detained publisher of Sahara Reporter, Omoyele Sowore, was convened by late Ismaila Isa-Funtua, not the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency has said.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said this on Tuesday in reaction to a statement by Mr Sowore that the delegation tried to persuade him to jettison his call for ‘revolution’ in return for freedom during a four months detention in 2019.
“Nobody sent anybody to go and ‘negotiate’ Sowore’s freedom as he put it,” Mr Shehu said in a tweet.
ISMA’ILA ISA: SOWORE HAS NOTHING TO GAIN BY ATTACKING A DEAD SOUL.
Let’s get the facts straight on the meeting with Sowore in SSS detention.
— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) July 21, 2020
“The late Malam Isma’ila, on his own called me to ask that I broker a meeting with him and two others (Sam Amuka and Nduka Obaigbena) with the SSS, which they agreed to,” Mr Shehu wrote in the tweet.
He added that “despite (that Mr Sowore) got into his problems due (to) politics, not journalism,” the meeting was conceived because his “being a publisher imposed a duty on the media leaders to seek ways of making him free.”
Mr Shehu added that, contrary to the posturing in Mr Sowore’s statement, the meeting “ended on a happy note and Mr Sowore was happy with a resolution proposed, although the latter said his lawyer needed to come on board”.
He noted that “the fence mending process” collapsed after the team met Mr Sowore’s lawyer in Lagos.
He threatened to release the tape of the meeting if it is available with the SSS.
“I don’t know what Sowore wants to achieve by distorting the facts of what transpired, but my advice to him is that he should stop his attacks on a dead, well-meaning intercessor.
“Faced with this posturing and the unfair attacks on the dead, we certainly will be forced to ask for the release of tapes, in case they are available for the public to judge.”
Under the thread of Mr Shehu’s tweet, Mr Sowore denied entering any agreement with the delegation.
He said it is true he “was nice to your team because you weren’t my problem, you were just an errand boy.”
“In fact, I patted you on the back saying I had never met you before. You were respectful but I knew you were there on a hatchet job,” the activist added.
“My insistence then got Isa Funtua riled and he said that my lawyer was only grandstanding and that he too had been imprisoned by Buhari in 1983 and that no one can defeat the government. Your wicked self kept quiet but (Obaigbena) Nduka noticing I was upset, took me to the DO’s ante room
“When I arrived downstairs I made a telephone call to my lawyer, Femi Falana, in the presence of the DSS (SSS) officials telling him that I do not want to negotiate my freedom and that when he meets your team, he should restate my position. He did exactly that, your team got upset again.”