FORMER presidential candidate and Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore received heavyweight support when he appeared in court today as Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Senator Shehu Sani showed up in solidarity with him.
Sowore, 47, was released on bail on December 5 after spending 125 days in detention when the Department of State Security (DSS) was forced to obey a court order granting him bail. Left with no other option, the DSS let Sowore go but the following day when he appeared in court as the substantive hearing continued, the security men were waiting for him.
Heavily-armed DSS operatives disrupted the court proceedings, drove away Mr Sowore’s lawyer Femi Falana and chased Justice Ojukwu out of the courtroom at gun point. This led to an outcry, forcing the government to release Sowore on bail but his substantive case continues and he appeared in an Abuja high court today for a hearing.
Mr Sowore, arrested on August 3 for calling on Nigerians to demand a better country from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, appears to be seen as a big threat to the government. Sowore and his co-defendant Olawale Bakare, have been arraigned on a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, cyberstalking the president and money laundering.
In a big embarrassment for the government, several human rights and civil society heavyweights including Professor Soyinka, Senator Sani, the former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District and Deji Adeyanju all appeared in court today to show solidarity with Sowore. Also in attendance were Professor Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.