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Falana says Nigerian authorities offered Sowore ‘death warrant’ deal

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A fighting breaks out as security personnel attempt to re-arrest Nigerian activist Omoyele Sowore at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The lead counsel to embattled former Nigerian presidential candidate and journalist Omoyele Sowore said that the Nigerian authorities reached out for a deal during Sowore’s first 45 days in detention.

“They went to a court behind us and got an order to detain Sowore for 45 days to investigate his alleged terrorism,” Femi Falana said on TVC’s Your View on Monday.

“At the end of the investigation, nothing was found but they went to him in detention to reach a deal,” Falana said.

Falana said the State Security Service also reached out to him so as to convince Sowore when they could not persuade the Sahara Reporters’s publisher to take the deal he was offered.

“When they could not succeed, they met me and they wanted me to persuade him to agree to sign his death warrant and I told them off,” he said.

Falana said the intelligence agency “filed charges” against Sowore when they could not convince him to take the deal.

Sowore and his co-defendant Olawale Bakare were accused of treasonable felony, cyberstalking President Muhammadu Buhari and money laundering.

Sowore is being held by the intelligence agency since his arrest on August 3 — despite two court orders granting him bail. The journalist was released briefly on Thursday after a federal court gave the intelligence agency a 24-hour ultimatum to release Sowore pending his trial.

He was re-arrested on Friday after a dramatic show at the court. His lawyer Femi Falana said in a statement on Sunday that the DSS invaded the court where a hearing into his case was going. That bid caused chaos in the court and was unsuccessful.

Falana said he later drove Sowore to DSS office to avoid possible “violence”. But the DSS said it was not involved in the chaotic court show. The agency said the court invasion was “stage-managed” by Sowore himself.

The continuous illegal detention and the controversial re-arrest on Friday heightened the growing concerns about Nigeria’s democracy and press freedom which critics say is under pressure.

But the Nigerian government on Sunday justified the actions of the SSS claiming that Sowore “is a person of interest to the DSS” because he called for “a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.”

“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America,” the government said in a statement.


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