A protest calling for Omoyele Sowore’s release from DSS detention will be staged in New York on Tuesday, reports from United States indicated.
The protest will be the second in the city, to draw attention to the plight of the political activist and publisher of the online newspaper, Saharareporters, who has spent over 45 days in DSS gulag.
Last week, a protest was staged in front of the Nigerian Embassy in New York. The second protest coincides with President Muhammadu Buhari’s presence in the city, to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
As publisher of Saharareporters, New York is the base of Sowore. He lives in Haworth, Bergen County, in nearby state of New Jersey, along with his wife, Opeyemi and two children aged 10 and 12. But his operational office is in New York.
Nearly 50 human rights and press freedom organisations last month joined to file an urgent appeal with the UN on Sowore’s behalf.
Prominent Nigerian human rights activists have decried Sowore’s incarceration.
Twitter users reacted with the hashtag #FreeSoworeNow, calling on the Buhari administration to release him.
Amnesty International described the charges by the Nigerian government as “a misuse of the criminal system to silence critics and opposition.”
According to press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, Nigerian journalists “are often threatened, subjected to physical violence or denied access to information by government officials, police and sometimes the public itself.”
The organisation ranks Nigeria 120th out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Tracker.
Agitations for Sowore’s release intensified on Friday, after the Federal Government filed a new charge against the activist, who called for a ‘revolutionnow’ march on 5 August.
According to the charge, Sowore is being accused of treason, money laundering and cyberstalking President Buhari.
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said his immediate reaction on Friday after learning that Sowore has been charged with treason was to dismiss it as yet another “grotesque product of fake news”, that is now so pervasive in Nigeria.
He said when he confirmed the news, it became a “utterly depressing news”.
“So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction”, said Soyinka, who said he is at present out of Nigeria.
Soyinka said the government of Buhari has attained an unprecedented level of paranoia for charging activist, Omoyele Sowore with treason.
“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,” Soyinka stated.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it has sent an open letter to Mr Abukabar Malami (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urging him to use his position “to without delay enter a nolle prosequi and discontinue the prosecution of the Convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ protest and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his colleague, Olawale Bakare.
SERAP said: “We urge you to use your role as a trustee of the public interest under section 174 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) to end several of similar trumped-up cases going on in several states.”