The Nigerian Federal government has repeatedly targeted human rights defenders such as the likes of Omoyele Sowore and Agba Jalingo. Sowore has been in detention since August 2019. The reason being that, they have expressed views that criticizes the government and called for a revolution which the government deems to be a threat to the stability of the country. The Department of State’s Services (DSS) has refused to grant bail despite its conditions met. This is clearly an attempt by the government, using security agents and the judiciary, to influence the court’s decision.
Omoyele Sowore was a political candidate in Nigerian 2019 presidential election. He is the founder of the online news agency, Sahara reporters. Sowore has had quite the experience in activism; He was expelled twice for political reasons and student activism during his study at the University of Lagos. He was also the President of the University of Lagos Student Union Government form 1992-1994. Later on, he was arrested and tortured in 1992 after leading 5,100 students in a protest resulting in 7 casualties and injuries.
Omoyele Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019 ahead a planned nationwide protest, tagged #RevolutionNow. The arrest was condemned by Nobel Prize winner, Wole Soyinka. On September 24, 2019, he was granted bail by the Federal High Court Abuja on the conditions he surrenders his international passport in 45 hours. The DSS refusal to release Sowore sparked a protest by his wife in New York at the UN Plaza. On December 5, 2019 bail terms were settled, and the court once again, set Omoyele Sowore free. But the DSS stormed the court to re-arrest him. It is either Nigeria no longer respects the law, or the president doesn’t. The DSS as stated by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, does not need approval from the presidency to carry out its duties.
Amnesty International has declared Sowore and other defendants of human rights facing detention, as prisoners of conscience. The United States Department of State has condemned the re-arrest. Other artist such as Falz the bad guy and Davido have condemned the arrest.
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is a member of the All Progressive Congress. You start to wonder how progressive they may be once you begin to factor all the atrocities being committed without any justification such as a recent social media bill, that threatens free speech. Buhari served as the Head of State between 1983-1985, taking power through a military coup d’état. He introduced a policy called War Against Indiscipline (WAI) in 1984 to rid Nigeria of corruption and maladjustment.
President Buhari’s no nonsense policy and the activist historic love for mobilizing protests happened to have crossed path. Although the actions by the government is clearly a violation of the rights of the activist (Sowore), the government justifies that this is the length it will take to ensure stability in the country and any revoke any form of revolution.