After two months of waiting since his release on bail Christmas Eve, journalist and human-rights activist Omoyele Sowore, is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 11 in Nigeria on charges of treason and money-laundering.
Following his initial release on Dec. 24, his wife, Opeyemi Sowore called for the return of Omoyele to the United States and was joined by a diverse array of human-rights organizations, plus congressional representatives, including U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ5).
“I hope that the Nigerian government will drop the baseless charges and respect my husband’s right to freedom of expression and to due process as stipulated under the Nigerian Constitution and International Law,” she was quoted to have said.
Just recently in early December, Sowore supporters rallied in Newark and joined U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. Gottheimer has called on the Nigerian government to release Omoyele Sowore.
“I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression,” Menendez said in early December.
In a letter to the Nigerian ambassador, Menendez and Gottheimer said crackdowns on nonviolent protesters since 2015 “have similarly reflected a lack of apparent commitment to civic freedoms, which is beginning to negatively impact the image of Nigeria’s government, both at home and abroad.”
Both noted the government crackdowns “have collectively killed hundreds of Nigerian citizens and serve as troubling demonstrations of the excessive force used by the military,” wrote Menendez and Gottheimer.
Moreover, they noted increasing reports from Nigeria of “security services assaulting and detaining journalists, using excessive force on non-violent protesters, and taking other actions that inhibit freedom of expression, and otherwise prevent Nigerians from fully exercising their fundamental constitutional rights.”
Earlier this year, Mr Sowore called for revolution because he said Nigeria’s elections were not credible. That followed the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“All that is needed for a #Revolution is for the oppressed to choose a date they desire for liberty, not subjected to the approval of the oppressor,” he tweeted on 2 August.
He has since been charged with treason, money laundering and “cyberstalking” for allegedly sharing false and insulting information about President Buhari.
He denies all the charges.
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