Sowore detained for planning to overthrow Buhari, not for journalism, Presidency insists
The Nigeria Government Wednesday said the government’s decision to keep Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore in detention was because he planned to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Some international news outlets have mistakenly been describing his release as that of a journalist,” Buhari’s media aide Garba Shehu said in a statement.
“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.”
Shehu said the Buhari administration has never detained a journalist, seized copies of newspapers or shut down a medium of information since coming to power in 2015.
The presidential spokesman said Sowore’s arrest was right for any government to prevent any cause for the breakdown of law and order in its public.
“No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing,” Shehu said.
Operatives of the Department of Security Service (DSS) arrested Sowore on Saturday, August 3 after calling for a nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow.
Despite his arrest, protests were held in major parts of the country with a focus on governance and government accountability to the people.
But the Nigerian government said Sowore was plotting to overthrow Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and charged him with treasonable felony, money laundering and terrorism.
After disobeying two court orders that granted Sowore bail within the first 124 days he spent in detention, the DSS released him on Thursday, December 5 and rearrested him on Friday, December 6 with no court order to do so.
The Nigerian Government on Tuesday ordered Sowore’s release from detention alongside a former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki, who has been in detention for over four years despite being granted bail by four courts.
“I have directed the State Security Services (DSS) to comply with the order granting bail to the Defendants and effect their release,” Nigeria’s justice minister and attorney general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami said in a statement.
Malami said the decision to release them was in compliance with the bail granted to both Dasuki and Sowore by the courts.
Shehu, however, insists that Sowore’s protest was a veiled plan to create civil unrest across Nigeria.
“He (Sowore) did so (called for revolution) on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper (Sahara Reporters) run from the United States of America,” Shehu said.
“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.