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

Sowore: Wole Soyinka condemns government’s charges against activist

Professor Wole Soyinka, first African Nobel laureate in literature, has condemned the charges preferred against Omoyele Sowore, human rights activist and convener of the #RevolutionNow protest, by the federal government  of Nigeria.

The government preferred a seven counts charges of treasonable felony and money laundering against Sowore on Thursday.

The government also accused the human rights activist of causing insult to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Soyinka, in a statement issued on Saturday, said that the government of Buhari has attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.

The professor said at first he did not believe the report of the charges to be true.

“This is utterly depressing news. So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction,” the statement reads.

“Outside the country where I happened to be engaged at the moment, I can testify that the immediate reaction around me was to dismiss this as yet another grotesque product of Fake News, of which Nigerians have become the greatest practitioners. I confess that I also joined in this school of thought — at the start.

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“Further checks have however confirmed that this government has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia. I do not believe that the Justice department itself believes in these improbable charges, as formally publicised.

“So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, History still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn.

“Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.”

Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the last general election, has been detained since 2 August by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The DSS previously accused him of threatening the public peace with his planned nationwide #RevolutionNow protest scheduled for 5 August, and subsequently got a court order to detain him for 45 days.

The 45 days elapsed on Saturday and lawyers have called on the DSS to release the activist.

Raphael Adenaike

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