Six members of the United States (US) legislature have asked the Nigerian government to set up a trial for Sahara Reporters’s publisher Omoyele Sowore to justify his continued detention.
The lawmakers are Robert Menendez, Charles Schumer, Christopher Coons, Cory Booker, Bill Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer.
In a letter to Nigeria’s attorney-general and justice minister Abubakar Malami, they said “We request that you take immediate steps to… work to facilitate a speedy and fair resolution to the current circumstances of his re-detention; and ensure that he receives a legally sound and credible trial, consistent with Nigeria’s established judicial proceedings and the rulings that follow” .
The lawmakers said Nigeria risks tarnishing its international reputation over Sowore’s indefinite detention and that “it will best serve Nigeria’s interests to protect and uphold the very legal systems that provide for stability and open dialogue.”
Operatives of the Department of Security Service (DSS) arrested Sowore on Saturday, August 3 after calling for a nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow.
The protest, after his arrest, was in major parts of the country. It focused 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 Friday, December 6 with no court order to do so.
The American lawmakers, however, said the government’s actions are contrary to the values of a democratic country which includes “application of prosecutorial powers and actions, as well as the ultimate compliance with judicial rulings.”
The US lawmakers stated that Nigeria must work to uphold the basic human rights of its citizens including their freedom of expression and political affiliation
“Nigeria has an opportunity and responsibility to serve as a model for following the established rule of law under its own Constitution.”
The lawmakers said Malami’s adherence to facilitating genuine progress toward respect for the rule of law will continue to pave the way for closer ties between the United States and Nigeria for economic growth, development and security cooperation.