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Europe, Nigeria based groups adopt Sowore as Prisoner of Conscience

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Edwin Eriye

International civil rights groups in collaboration with their Nigerian counterparts have adopted detained Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, as a Prisoner of Conscience.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) in collaboration with United Kingdom based groups, Global witness, Cornerhouse and Re:Common of Italy and their counterparts in Nigeria adopted Sowore as Prisoner of Conscience, a term adopted in 1961 to qualify people detained for their political beliefs.

Local partners of the initiative are Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Journalists for Democratic Rigths (JODER), Enough is Enough (EiE), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and several others.

The statement signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, Simon Taylor, Nicholas Hildyard and Antonio Tricarico stated “We have followed with keen interest the arrest and prosecution of Mr Omoyele Sowore, the Publisher of Sahara Reporters. He was detained for 45 days on obvious charges for which the State has yet to provide credible evidential basis.

At the expiration of the 45 days, his lawyer Mr Femi Falana (SAN) went to court seeking his bail. The Court of Justice gave the order releasing him on bail. It’s now three days after the bail was granted, the Nigerian Federal authorities have refused to release him.”

The statement said the prosecution of the activist has now turned into persecution.

Speaking further, the right groups stated that “With this adoption, the floodgates of international campaign have been opened for a vigorous lobby for the immediate release of Mr Sowore. It will involve engagement of regional and international organizations and working within the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) system.

“Sahara Reporters with over 25 million subscribers remains one of the most powerful tools of social change in Nigeria and the Nigerian government should have seen such a medium as a partner instead of isolating the publisher for deliberate assaults.

“Sowore is now an imprisoned person with a global status. His medium, Sahara Reporters has been consistent in exposing the ills of the Nigerian and indeed African societies.

“He has devoted his platform for the cause of the public good, confronting corrupt and tyrannical leaders, fighting them in ways deadlier than weapons of war. He has over the years broken borders and swept a new wave of renaissance across Africa and in particular, Nigeria, his fatherland. His case is that of outright persecution with the government insisting on a ring of capital offence around his neck.”

“Framing charges of treasonable felony against a single person who is a journalist, without any collaborators, suggests that some powerful politicians would wish to see Sowore perpetually locked up.

“It noted that reasonable felony is not a capital offence under section 41 of the Criminal Code”.

Blackbox Nigeria, on September 24, had published that The ‘Revolution Now’ leader, Sowore had earlier been arrested for treason based on claims by the Federal government that he planned to topple the government.

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