Nigerian Activist, Omoyele Sowore, Re-Arrested Just Hours After Being Released on Bail
Sowore, the organizer of Nigeria's #RevolutionNow protests, was detained by armed officers, once again, in court on Friday.
Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian human rights activist and former presidential candidate who has spent over four months in jail under dubious charges, was re-arrested today in Lagos while appearing in court.
The journalist and founder of New York-based publication Sahara Reporters, had been released on bail the day before. He was arrested following his organization of nationwide #RevolutionNow protests in August. Since then, Sowore has remained in custody on what are said to be trumped-up charges, including treason, money laundering and stalking the president.
He appeared in court once again on Friday after being released on bail in federal court the previous day. During his appearance, Sowore was again taken into custody by Nigerian authorities.
A clip, shared by Sahara Reporters shows disorder inside the courtroom as armed officers from Nigeria's Department of State Security (DSS) stormed the premises and detained Sowore. He can be seen on the ground, being forcefully removed as he asks why he's being arrested.
The clip has been widely circulated, with many Nigerians vehemently denouncing the government's actions and treatment of Sowore. "President [Buhari] the whole world is watching the video of officials of the State Security Service which you directly supervise brutally violate the constitutional rights of a citizen @YeleSowore inside a court and desecrated our Judiciary- an independent arm of government," wrote 2019 presidential nominee Oby Ezekwesili on Twitter.
"Armed DSS operatives strangled and forcefully harmed my husband in an attempt to rearrest him," Sowore's wife Opeyemi Sowore CNN. "The judge fled the courtroom for her own safety. And with brutal force, the DSS operatives were successful in taking my husband again."
OkayAfrica spoke with Opeyemi Sowore in September and she likened current attacks on freedom of expression in Nigeria to what took place in the country during the 1990's under the dictatorship of Sani Abacha.
Several activists and human rights organizations called on the Nigerian government to release Sowore immediately and to fight increasing censorship. Sowore was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Attacks on freedom of expression are a growing issue in Nigeria. In November, the "Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation" social media bill was brought before congress for a second reading. Nigerians have protested against it, stating that it would give the government power to take away one of the primary means of political expression.
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