Operatives of the Nigerian Police Force have barricaded the Lagos, Nigeria office of SaharaReporters, an online news platform owned by Omoyele Sowore, a prominent Nigerian journalist, human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner currently detained by the government.
The security operatives reportedly prevented staff from gaining access into the building premises, located at GRA in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.
The Cable, an online newspaper in Nigeria, reports that the security operatives arrived the office at 7am.
“They are currently banging the gate asking those of us inside to come out right now,” the online newspaper quoted a member of staff of SaharaReporters to have said.
The development is coming after the planned protests, scheduled to hold in the country today, seeking the release of Sowore.
Using the hashtag #FreeSoworeNow, the organizers said the protest will also hold in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands and on 19 September at the Nigeria embassies in Canada and the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, an online news hub based in New York City that focuses on corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in Nigeria, was arrested on August 3, 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.
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.
The Nigerian government subsequently 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 (Sowore) team of lawyers and lead counsel, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to free him have so far proved abortive. Bail applications filed by the lawyers challenging Sowore’s detention order were dismissed by the court.