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Omoyele Sowore campaigning in the run up to the February 2019 presidential election at which he was a candidate. Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, an online news agency based in New York City that focuses on corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in Nigeria,  was arrested 3 August 2019 and detained by the Nigerian authorities /Photo: Sowore2019/Facebook

Nigeria: Detained activist Omoyele Sowore files fresh bail application in court

Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian  prominent journalist, human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner, has applied for bail in a fresh application he filed at the Federal Hight Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, an online news agency based in New York City that focuses on corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in Nigeria,  was arrested 3 August 2019 and detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) over alleged an plan to topple Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari through a protest tagged #RevolutionNow.

But Sowore denied planning to topple Buhari, adding that he only mobilized Nigerians to protest against, bad governance, kidnapping, killings and other vices rocking the country.

The Nigerian government had obtained a court order on 8 August to keep Sowore in detention for 45 days, while it conducts its investigation before charging him for treason.

Efforts made by his team of lawyers and lead counsel, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to free Sowore have proved abortive. Bail applications filed by the lawyer challenging Sowore’s detention order were dismissed.

Sowore filed a fresh application on Friday (13 September) at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In the fresh application, Sowore’s lawyers argued that the DSS had completed its investigations, adding that by Section 28 (4) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013 “a person detained pursuant to Section 27 (1) can be admitted to bail by this honourable court.”

One of his lawyers, Marshal Abubakar, who deposed to the affidavit filed in support of the application, prayed the court to grant bail to Sowore in liberal terms.

He added that the activist had responsible persons who could stand as sureties for him.

The arrest of Mr Sowore was a direct consequence of his call for a peaceful protest scheduled to take place on 5 August 2019, using the hashtag #RevolutionNow. 

The objective of the protest was to demand that the Nigerian government end corruption and economic inequality and guarantee education to all. 

Despite Sowore’s arrest and detention, the 5 August #RevolutionNow protests took place in Abuja, Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Cross River but protesters were dispersed with teargas and gunshots by the police. Numerous protesters, including several of Sahara Reporters’ journalists, were arrested and charged with illegal assembly. 

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Revolution, organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest, has announced that it will carry out peaceful demonstrations nationwide on September 18 to press for the release of Sowore and other persons detained as a result of the 5 August protest.

Many local and international rights groups have called for his release.

Raphael Adenaike

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