Nigerian government orders release of Omoyele Sowore, journalist and human rights activist

Omoyele Sowore. Screenshot from CNBCAfrica interview, December 13, 2018.

On December 24, 2019, Nigeria's attorney general and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami directed the State Security Service “to comply with the [court] order granting bail” to Omoyele Sowore, journalist and human rights activists, Nigerian newspaper Punch reports.

Sowore was arrested at his residence in Lagos, Nigeria, on August 3, 2019, and was charged with trumped-up charges of treason, cyberstalking and money laundering after calling for a #RevolutionNow protest.

Sowore's arrest and detention — despite two court orders to release him — has drawn national and global commendation for blatantly disregarding the rule of law in Nigeria and undermining human rights.

Sowore, the publisher of investigative online newspaper Sahara Reporters, ran against President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2019 elections. On December 6, a day after Sowore was granted bail, officials of the Department of State Services (DSS), rearrested him within the precincts of an Abuja High Court.

Review a timeline of Omoyele's Sowore's arrest here.

Malami also ordered the release of Sambo Dasuki, a former national security adviser, who was arrested on December 1, 2015, after being accused of allegedly stealing $2.1 billion USD by awarding phantom military contracts in the fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram. He was held in detention for the past two and a half years despite several court orders granting him bail.

Malami stated:

In line with the provisions of Section 150 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and in compliance with the bail granted to Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) (as recently varied by the Court of Appeal); and the bail granted to Omoyele Sowore, I have directed the State Security Services to comply with the order granting bail to the defendants and effect their release. The two defendants [Sowore and Dasuki] are enjoined to observe the terms of their bail and refrain from engaging in any act that is inimical to public peace and national security, as well as their ongoing trial which will run its course in accordance with the laws of the land.

Presidential aide Bashir Ahmad tweeted that the government ordered that both Dasuki and Sowore should be released.

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