Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to terminate the trial of the publisher of the Saharareporters Omoyele Sowere with immediate effect.
HURIWA expressed this sentiment saying it has been inundated with messages from all over the World by persons expressing the unanimous view that the charges framed against Sowore are a disgrace to the corporate image of Nigeria.
According to the group, the charges have made Nigeria appear like a huge joke to the rest of the civilized World just as most people have said that the persecution of Sowore and others depicts Nigeria like the General Idi Amin of Uganda or even the tyranny of Yoweiri Museveini.
The rights group stated that the frivolous charges slammed on the activist including the infantile charge of insulting the president is a direct affront to the fundamental legal principle in which constitutional democracy is anchored upon.
The rights group said there is a general accord on the sensitivity and centrality of freedom of speech in a constitutional democracy in all schools of thought.
“Freedom of speech is an important part of democracy because it protects minorities’ rights to speak in politics participation. Freedom of speech puts restrictions on tyranny of the majority who are required to sacrifice their own time in order to permit minority opposition to express their views and ideas. Also the Rights group pointed to section 14 (2) (c) of the constitution which clearly provides that the participation by the people in their government SHALL be ensured in accordance with the provisions o this c constitution. The Rights group said the call for CIVIL Action by Omoyele Sowore for which he was picked up was constitutionally guaranteed.”
The Rights group, which stated that those spurious charges instituted by the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice in partnership with the Department of States Services under a democratic administration is a direct throwback to the sad and sordid days of misfortune and disaster called military dictatorship just as the group said the illegal and arbitrary arrest of the activist and his other followers amounted to an abuse of power which offends the constitution in section 15(5) which states that Nigerian state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“Does Mr. President not know that the atrocious act of locking up political opponents, civil rights activists and journalists in the 21st century has gradually exposed Nigeria to the danger of being regarded as a rogue administration?”
HURIWA said: “We find it unbelievable that the Federal Government on Friday last week filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore when it is a notorious fact that these are simply spurious and unsustainable charges which cannot stand any standard judicial test in a properly constituted independent court system which the Nigerian constitution in section 6 envisages. Recall that Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, is charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate. The charges were signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.”
On the charges which were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days, HURIWA says the continuous detention of these Nigerians and many others remain unlawful and unconstitutional and the Federal government is under a legal and moral obligations to end this persecution now. ”
“For the Federal government to stylishly rush to The court to institute frivolous charges when the detention order elapses on September 21 shows that the government completely lacks any rational reason for this continuous persecution. In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The entire World views these cocktails of draconian charges as an attempt to return Nigeria to the dark days of dictatorship”.
The rights group faulted the prosecution who also accused the activists of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President because in the opinion of HURIWA these citizens calling for CIVIL protests are allowed by the Nigerian Constitution to enjoy the fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association”.
HURIWA also condemned the alleged use of torture against Omoyele SOWORE by the DSS as alleged by the defendant who stated that the DSS threw him on a cold floor and locked the door at the detention facility of the DSS.
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