President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) government had succumbed to pressures from the United States Government to effect the release of Omoyele Sowore, in particular, and Sambo Dasuki, in addition, from the detention of the Department of State Security (DSS) on the eve of Christmas. Six lawmakers from the US Senate and Congress had written to Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, cautioning of the consequences of disregard to the rule of law and court orders by the Buhari administration which Malami is the chief judicial officer. The lawmakers protested the invasion of the Federal high Court, Abuja, by armed security operatives of the DSS and the violent attempt to re-arrest Sowore while appearing for the commencement of his persecution less than 24 hours of his release by DSS after long period of undermining court orders for his bail.
The lawmakers from the Congress of the United States, Washington DC 20515, in a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Abubakar Malami, dated December 20, 2019, signed by Signed Robert Menendez, United States Senator, Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator, Christopher A. Cooms, United States Senator, Cory A. Booker, United States Senator, Bill Pascrell Jr, Member of Congress and Jose Cotheinwer, Member of Commons, warned that the critical political issues in the Buhari administration damage Nigeria’s international reputation as the largest democracy in Africa. They warmed of the consequences it could have on Nigeria/US bilateral relations and the multiplier effects on economic growth, development and security cooperation between the two countries.
They, therefore, demanded Malami whose office is responsible for the prosecution of Sowore to ensure his safety and prosecution in accordance with the established constitution of the country.
The Justice Minister, thereafter, announced the release of Sowore and Dasuki whose case also falls under the legality arguments of the US lawmakers. Dasuki apparently benefited from the US protest of Buhari’s noncompliance with the rule of law and court orders.
The letter reads:
“We write to you regarding Mr. Omoyele Sowore, a New York resident, who was arrested on August 3rd and charged with treason, money laundering and cyberstalking associated with his call for demonstration, We are deeply concerned that established legal procedure and the rule of law are not being followed in his case. We understand that the Nigerian court twice ordered his release after he met the terms of his bail, but the Nigerian Department of State Security (DSS) refused to comply with these orders until December 5th. We are also told that the very next day he was rearrested while appearing in court for what was supposed to be the beginning of his trial. Disturbing videos of a melee in court are circulating, which appear to show armed agents in the court, and Mr. Sowore being placed in a choke hold after which he was re-detained by DSS, though no new charges have been filed to justify this re-detention. We understand that his case has since been placed within your purview.
“We are pleased to stand alongside Nigeria as a democratic country. As the largest democracy in Africa, Nigeria has an opportunity and responsibility to serve as a model for following the established rule of law under its own Constitution. And as with all advanced democracies, this includes the lawful application of prosecutorial powers and actions, as well as the ultimate compliance with judicial rulings. In the case of Mr. Sowore’s re-detention, this does not appear to have happened. Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s and your leadership, Nigeria must work to uphold the basic human rights of its citizens including their freedom of expression and political affiliation, without fear of government reprisal and harassment, particularly, for opposing or dissenting voices. As your country works to protect the security of your citizens including actively countering threats of terrorism and extremist violence, it will best serve Nigeria’s interests to protect and uphold the very legal system that provide for stability and open dialogue.
“Mr. Attorney General, we request that you take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of Mr. Sowore while he is held in government custody; work to facilitate a speedy and fair resolution to the current circumstances of his re-detention; and ensure that he receives a legally sound and credible trial, consistent with Nigeria’s established judicial proceedings and the rulings that follow. Indefinite detention in defiance of court orders and/or unfairly conducting Mr. Sowore’s legal prosecution will only serve to tarnish Nigeria’s international reputation and its standing as a leading African democracy. Doing so risks empowering other voices who would seek to work against you. Your leadership in facilitating genuine progress toward respect for the rule of law can continue to pave the way for closer ties between the United States and Nigeria for years to come, strengthening continued economic growth, development and security cooperation. We urge you to show leadership in this case and on these critical issues.”
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