Calls to release Sowore


Human rights groups called for the release of a former presidential candidate facing treason charges re-arrested a day after being released on bail.

Omoyele Sowore, who ran against President Muhammadu Buhari in the February election, was first arrested in August and pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.

He was granted bail in October but remained in detention until last week because security agents said he had not met bail conditions.

Sowore was released on bail last Thursday in line with a court order but re-arrested by state security officials on Friday. He was dragged screaming and shouting from court.

The scuffle prompted new criticism of Buhari, who was Nigeria’s military ruler from December 1983 to August 1985 and was elected president in 2015. The presidency has rejected the criticism.

Rights organisations, including Amnesty International, called for “unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore as per his bail terms” and an investigation into his re-arrest.

The groups urged Buhari to “show accountability as president and Commander-in-Chief and address the nation on his commitment to the rule of law and human rights”.

They also called for protests at the National Human Rights Commission’s offices nationwide if their demands are not met in 14 days.

A presidency spokesman declined comment. A spokesman for the Department of State Services (DSS), the security agency, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Nigerian Bar Association said Sowore’s re-arrest was a “disgraceful and crass violation”.

DSS said Sowore supporters want to bring the service into disrepute in an “orchestrated drama”.