Jailed human rights activist and publisher of Sahara reporters, Omoyele Sowore has begun the battle to get himself released from Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, where he was remanded on Monday.
Sowore arrived at the Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja wearing handcuffs but appeared unbothered.
The court presided over by Chief Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello would hear the bail application by Sowore, Juwon Sanyaolu, Peter Williams, Emmanuel Bulus, and Damilare Ademola.
They were arrested during a protest against bad governance on New Year’s Eve and arraigned on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others.
However, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent “an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment of journalist Omoyele Sowore and four other activists simply for peacefully exercising their human rights.”
SERAP said: “The Working Group should request the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the bogus charges against Mr. Sowore and four other activists, and to immediately and unconditionally release them.”
In the complaint dated 4 January 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The detention of Omoyele Sowore and four other activists constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also does not meet minimum international standards of due process.”
SERAP added that “The arrest, continued detention and torture and ill-treatment of Mr. Sowore and four other activists solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international human rights law. They are now facing bogus charges simply for exercising their human rights.”
The Human Rights group called on the UN Working Group to request the Nigerian government to investigate and hold accountable all police officers and security agents suspected to be responsible for “the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and torture and other ill-treatment of Mr. Sowore and four other activists.
SERAP also called on the Working Group to request the Nigerian government to award Mr Sowore and four other activists adequate compensation for the violations they have suffered as a result of the arrest.