Sowore: Buhari Out of Touch – US Senator
By Ufuoma Egbamuno
US Senator, Bob Menendez has accused Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari of appearing to be “woefully out of touch” after the pandemonium which occurred at the Federal High Court, Abuja where #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore was re-arrested.
The New Jersey Senator in a press conference condemned the re-arrest of Sowore by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) in court yesterday.
“I fear that the blatant harassment of Sowore – an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to freedom of expression is becoming a symptomatic of increasing closing political and civil space in Nigeria,” Senator Menendez said.
“The Nigeria court had twice ordered his release on bail and the State Security agencies openly defied the court order each time leading me to conclude either that Nigeria no longer respects the rule of law or President Buhari is woefully out of touch with what agents of his government are doing in his name.”
JUST IN: “They promised I will not walk out of their detention alive and that is what they came here to implement today..."— Nigeria Info FM 99.3 (@NigeriainfoFM) December 6, 2019
Sowore Alleges DSS Plot to Kill Him as He is Rearrested https://t.co/oxU1K5RPdb
The high ranking member of the United States Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee insisted that the events of Friday are “unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy.”
Senator Menendez, who was later joined on the podium by Sowore’s wife, Ope Sowore, noted that it was “unacceptable to treat the husband and father of a US citizen with such blatant cruelty.”
“The Nigeria court had twice ordered his release on bail and the State Security agencies openly defied the court order each time,” he noted.
Sowore was re-arrested in court on Friday following his release on Thursday evening. This came after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja gave the DSS a 24 hour ultimatum to release him.
He was arrested by the DSS on August 3, 2019 because of planned protest against the government. He was however granted bail on September 24, 2019 by the Federal High Court Abuja, on the condition that he surrender his international passport but the DSS refused to release him claiming ignorance of the court order.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on for suspension of the Director General of the DSS. In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun, the NBA asked the “Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Assembly (to) immediately investigate the shameful conduct by the DSS and ensure that all persons found culpable are duly punished in accordance with the law.”
The NBA accused the DSS of “violating the fundamental rights of Nigerians and disrespecting court orders,” and tasked the National Assembly to “review the laws setting up the DSS and indeed all security agencies in Nigeria with a view to repositioning them to be more responsible and responsive to the public.”