HEDA Demands Release Of Sowore, As Falana Heads To Court

Yemisi Izuora

The Police authorities have been asked to release Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore without delay.

In a release issued on Sunday, Nigeria’s right coalition, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre)  urged the Police to release Sowore who was on bail for trump up treason charges considered by many as trumped up, before his recent arrest.

 

The statement signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said the arrest of Sowore on New Year’s eve was an ill thought action to compound his current face off with Nigerian authorities.

 

The Police arrested Sowore on December 31 while he was leading a political vigil organised against corruption and bad governance.

HEDA said Sowore ought to have been granted bail by the Police but that instead he was kept behind bars and compelled to spend the traditional cross over night behind bars.

The group said it may be compelled to renew another global campaign that will embarrass the Nigerian government if he was not released or charged to competent court of law.

 

“We call for the unconditional release of the Sahara Reporters Publisher, Mr  Omoyele Sowore. He was arrested on December 31 and has yet to be taken to court. The police should release him without any further delay”

 

HEDA said Sowore is a victim of political persecution whose tormentors are anxious to bring down because of his online medium which is noted for being critical of the Nigerian authorities

 

“Since 2019, the Nigerian government has been keeping Sowore in detention on trumped up charges. His recent ordeal leading to his arrest on New Year’s eve is in furtherance of a plot to ensure his continuous incarceration by the Nigerian government” Suraju said.

Meanwhile, Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Saturday, January 2, stated that he has received instructions from Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, to institute a lawsuit against the Nigeria Police Force and its officers for torture.

Falana stated this in a statement on Saturday.

Falana said his client was badly beaten and also subjected to dehumanising conditions in contravention of the Anti-Torture Act.

“Since Mr. Sowore’s fundamental right to dignity has been recklessly violated by the police we have his instructions to press for charges against all the officers who subjected him to physical and mental torture in contravention of the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Anti Torture Act of 2017,” he said.

According to Falana, the Nigeria Police Force is waiting for “orders from above” before releasing Sowore.

“Order from above” is a common term used in Nigeria to refer to a superior authority.

He further stated that the police were holding his client for alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols; but had denied him bail for two consecutive days even though the law says such offences are bailable.

Falana further stated that his client had pointedly told the Police that he had not breached COVID-19 protocols.

The activist said, “Mr. Sowore who was covering an event at the time of his arrest has maintained that he did not breach any of the COVID-19 regulations. He has been detained indefinitely on the basis of orders “from above.”

The lawyer said his client had been tortured, also locked up in a detention facility along with armed robbery suspects.

Falana added, “The police officers who arrested Mr. Omoyele Sowore at Abuja on January 31, 2020, subjected him to severe beating and also left him with bruises all over his body.

“As if that was not enough he has been locked up in the midst of armed robbery suspects at a notorious detention facility called abattoir maintained by the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad in Abuja.

“The physical torture to Mr. Sowore was prolonged by the refusal of the police; to provide him with medical attention.

“Although Mr. Sowore’s injuries are being treated by his personal physician; the police authorities have refused the application of the detainee for bail; even though the alleged offence of breaching COVID-19 regulations is ‘bailable’.”

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