Africa

Omoyele Sowore: Nigerian journalist arrested hours after release

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Nigerian authorities have re-arrested journalist Omoyele Sowore less than 18 hours after he was freed by a court.

His lawyer told the BBC that he was detained by security services during an adjournment in his court hearing.

Sowore, a former presidential candidate and founder of the news site Sahara Reporters, was first detained in August after he called for revolution.

Despite being granted bail in October the authorities have continued to hold him, sparking a public outcry.

Images shared by Sahara Reporters show Sowore being pinned to the floor of an Abuja courtroom where he had been summoned for a hearing. His co-defendant Olawale Bakare was also taken into custody.

It comes a day after a court ordered that the pair be released by Nigeria’s Department for State Security (DSS).

The reasons for their detention have not yet been disclosed.

Their lawyer, Femi Falana, told AFP news agency that crowds resisted attempts to arrest the pair and to prevent further violence he had personally driven them to the DSS’ headquarters.

Mr Falana said the DSS told him that Mr Omoyele was needed for questioning and would be released later in the day.

“I can assure you what is happening now will not go away unchallenged,” Mr Falana told reporters. “We either run this country on the platform of the rule of law or we resort to gangsterism which is what is going on.”

No-one from the DSS was immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year, Sowore called for revolution because he said Nigeria’s elections were not credible. That followed the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in the year.

“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.

One day later, on 3 August, he sent another tweet: “DSS invades Sowore’s.”

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.

Despite being granted bail, the DSS continued to hold him in custody, claiming that no-one had come to claim him.

But Sahara Reporters said his lawyers were denied access when trying to collect him from jail in Abuja.

BBC

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