by Halimah Yahya
The presidency on Sunday justified the treatment of Omoyele Sowore by the State Security Service (SSS).
“Sowore 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,” Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, wrote in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Shehu was evasive on whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari authorised the disobedience of court orders by the SSS in detaining Mr Sowore.
“The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999,” the spokesperson said.
He also kept mum on whether or not Mr Buhari ordered Friday’s invasion of court premises by SSS operatives in a bid to rearrest Mr Sowore.
Mr Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters online newspaper, and activist Olawale Bakare, were arrested and detained by the SSS for over 120 days despite two separate court orders for their release.
Arrested for planning anti-government protests, they were only released last Thursday night after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the SSS 24 hours to release both men.
Both men are being prosecuted for treason and insulting President Buhari.
Mr Sowore was, however, rearrested at the Abuja Federal High Court on Friday morning in a move condemned by local and international rights groups, officials and governments.
In his statement on Sunday, however, Mr Shehu defended the SSS actions and compared Mr Sowore’s revolution call to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Read Mr Shehu’s full statement below.
SOWORE: BETWEEN FACTS AND FICTION
The Presidency notes some of the insinuations in the media about the arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) of the agitator, Omoyele Sowore.
The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.
However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS.
Sowore 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.
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.
No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.
Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.
He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.
Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.
To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.
Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.
Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.
The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.
Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in far away New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.
This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.
Senior Special Assistant to the President