Statement by Sowore's Wife
“The situation in Nigeria has escalated to a dangerous and critical place. I’m scared for my husband’s life and the lives of all journalists—and frankly anyone who speaks the truth under Buhari’s rule.
Today’s events alone highlight the flagrant violation of human rights. Blatant bribery today by the DSS to derail a peaceful protest. Guns fired at journalists. Witnesses describe a violent scene erupting at the hands of DSS armed guards and evidence of journalists being beaten and injured.
Contempt of court orders continue to deny my husband’s release. With every passing day there’s further deterioration and more alarming disregard for due process. Today marks day 102 of my husband’s illegal detention. Human lives are at risk here. Human lives hang in the balance here. Where is the breaking point where world leaders intervene?”
-Opeyemi Sowore, wife of Omoyele Sowore
Also finally we had an excellent appeal from Laura Ling in the Gannett Newspapers today. It's another side of the story.... https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/contributors/2019/11/11/omoyele-sowore-must-freed-says-laura-ling-held-north-korea/2562540001/ More details will be posted as we have them, for now two important articles in the US today in The Washington Post and Gannett USa Today Network
Today's Washington Post Op-Ed
With the Arrest of Prominent Journalist Buhari Up to his Old Tricks
Yesterday Op Ed In USAToday Network by Laura Ling
Prominent Journalist Omeyele Sowore Must Be Freed
He said, “I was reliably informed last night by a security official that the government was currently fishing for evidence.
“An attempt is being made to file a fresh charge on Tuesday so that there will be an excuse that ‘we are arraigning them in court, hence we are unable to release them’.
“If you recall, that was what was done when Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted Sowore bail on September 24.
“For a whole week, the order of the court was flouted. And then, of course, on September 30, he was arraigned together with Olawale Bakare.
“We are ready for them.”
In Nigeria, it is perhaps not the best of times to be a journalist or civil rights activist going by the spate of attacks on freedom of the press and speech.
While attacks on Nigerian journalists is no longer a new phenomenon, they appear to have taken a turn for concern in recent months.
An analysis by www.pressattack.ng, published by the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom, shows that 352 total cases of attacks and harassments on journalists have been recorded from 1985 till date.
The year 2018 was initially recorded by the analysis to have witnessed the highest number of attacks (58). But the group’s latest release shows that 2019 has already surpassed that record with the 61 attacks so far, and is still counting.
According to the research, as at May this year, the total number of physical attacks on reporters was 189; equipment searches and seizures, 9; equipment or property damage, 17; arrests, 60; denial of access, 21; threats, 44 and ‘harassments’, 12.
Of these attacks, 322 were on media houses, while the remaining 30 were meted on individuals. Also, 95 per cent of journalists affected were males while the rest were females.
About 114 of such attacks were carried out by uniformed personnel (military, police, SSS, SARS, NSCDC, prison officials, EFCC etc).
Other aggressors were union members (3), criminals, thugs etc (56), private security outfits (18), terrorists (9), unknown (33) and others (68).
Nigeria's state security service says it is still detaining journalist Omoyele Sowore - who is facing treason charges - despite him being granted bail, because nobody came to claim him.
Is he free to leave jail on bail?
According to Nigeria's security services, known as the Department of State Services (DSS) - yes.
In a statement on Friday, the DSS said it had received a court order for the release of Mr Sowore, but nobody had come to claim him.
"It is important that the public notes that since the receipt of the Order, no person has turned up at the DSS to take delivery of him. This becomes imperative for reasons of accountability," it said.
But Sahara Reporters have disputed this, stating that Mr Sowore's lawyers were blocked when they attempted to collect him.
"On Saturday morning, lawyers and activists stormed the facility to take Sowore home but were met with stiff resistance by operatives, who said they had no clearance to let him go," it reported.
There has been widespread criticism of the DSS on social media over the case.
"This is a joke! Just open your damn gate DSS. He will go home or let me call UBER to pick him [up]!" wrote one Twitter user.
BBC Covers Anger Over Nigerian Journalist Omoyele Sowore detention ">READ ARTICLE
The State Security Service (SSS) on Saturday morning again refused to release Omoyele Sowore from illegal custody.
On Friday night, the SSS said in a statement that Mr Sowore was still held because no one had turned up to collect him from detention.
The statement came two days after a federal judge signed Mr Sowore‘a release order after the activist satisfied stringent bail conditions imposed on him as part of his ongoing trial for purported treason and defamation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The SSS was widely condemned as a lawless agency by Nigerians who were enraged by the effrontery of the institution to brazenly disregard the order of a federal court.
“Since the receipt of the order, no person has turned up” to “take delivery” of Mr Sowore “from custody,” spokesperson Peter Afunanya said Friday night. “This becomes imperative for reasons of accountability.”
The statement prompted a flurry of comments from Nigerians who described it as awkward and ridiculous. Supporters also indicated plans to turn up at the SSS headquarters in Abuja where Mr Sowore is believed held, to pick him up.
PREMIUM TIMES joined in the efforts to see whether or not the SSS will live up to its promise to obey the latest court order for Mr Sowore’s release.
Starting at 7:00 a.m. Saturday, PREMIUM TIMES began placing calls to officials and lawyers of the SSS, including Mr Afunanya, who signed the press release Friday night. READ MORE
“Mr Falana spoke in Lagos Thursday at a conversation on the shrinking media and civic space in Nigeria and public presentation of a book, Testimony to Courage, essays in honour of Dapo Olorunyomi.
He expressed worry over the incessant attack on the media, saying it was part of an elaborate plan to cow the media into submission so that it would not challenge the policies of the government in the build-up to 2023 elections.
“Let me say this our country has gone to the dogs and the media must help,” he said.
“And that is why the war is against the media because for the 2023 race the media must be silenced. You will have the third term campaign very soon. Very soon they are going to destroy all possible opponents and they have started. So by the time they bring in the third term agenda, the media would have been gone.”
“But we are not going to allow it and I have said it publicly, no dictator can defeat the Nigerian people,” he added.
Many journalists have been arrested, detained and prosecuted in the past few years for various offences relating to their work.
A PREMIUM TIMES journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, was arrested last year and detained for refusing to disclose his sources for a story. He was later charged by the police with stealing documents he used to write the story, charges the police failed to appear in court for."
“On 8th August 2019, the Honourable Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted the application of the State Security Service to detain Mr. Omoyele Sowore for 45 days. Upon the expiration of the 45-day detention period the court granted Mr. Sowore bail on September 24, 2019. He met the bail conditions but the State Security Service refused to release him from custody.
Mr. Sowore and Mandate Bakare were subsequently charged with treasonable felony, cyber stalking and money laundering on September 30, 2019. The trial judge, the Honourable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu admitted the defendants to bail under very stringent conditions. Upon meeting the bail conditions Justice Ojukwu directed the State Security Service to release the defendants from detention.
But in utter contempt of the orders of Justice Ojukwu the State Security Service has refused to release Sowore and Bakare from custody.
Since the State Security Service is not above the law of the land we shall embark on appropriate legal measures to ensure compliance with the court orders.”
Femi Falana, Omoyele Sowore’s Lawyer
Statement from Opeyemi Sowore, wife of Omeyele Sowore
The outcome and events today that resulted in the judge’s motion to adjourn my husband’s trial until early December acknowledges that the Nigerian government did not follow due process leading into today’s court proceedings.
Mr Falana, my husband’s lawyer, also stated today that Yele has met all bail conditions. We are now awaiting word on my husband’s release. He is presently still in custody of the DSS.
Our hope is the baseless charges will be dropped immediately. My family remains concerned for my husband’s safety and pray for his safe return home to New Jersey.”
Stories From Nigeria