Rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the Nigerian government 48 hours to unconditionally release Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters and other activists arrested during a peaceful protest on New Year’s eve in Abuja.
The group also threatened to take legal and international action if Sowore and other arrested protesters are not released immediately.
Reports suggest Sowore, and the other activists spent the wee hours of the New Year in police custody.
Before his arrest, Sowore had sent out a series of tweets calling on Nigerians to join him on a protest against the regime of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“How about a crossover protest/uprising tonight? Anyone willing to participate? Pick up a candle and a placard showing your grievances against the regime; let’s upload our short videos and photos across our social media platforms. Let’s welcome the regime to a resolute 2021!
“#CrossoverWithProtest against tyrant @mbuhari’s regime, candlelight for #LekkiMassacre; a placard for #EndBadGovernment; procession to usher in #Revolutionary 2021, a fist for victims of repression-frozen bank accounts, malicious prosecution and detention of #Endsars activists.
“#Crossoverwithprotest starts at 11.30 till 12.30 am across Nigeria, a candle, a placard and fireworks to usher in a RESOLUTE 2021 in Nigeria! Join with your friends and neighbours #EndSARS. #ObigboMassacre #LekkiMassacre #EndBadGoveranceInNigeria #BuhariTrainwreck #RevolutionNow,” he tweeted.
Eyewitnesses said several armed policemen around midnight accosted the protesters at Gudu Junction injuring some of them in the process and were subsequently taken to a police unit in the the nation’s capital, Abuja.
But SERAP in a tweet on Friday said: “Nigerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Omoyele Sowore & other activists reportedly arrested and tortured during a peaceful protest last night in Abuja.
“We’ll take legal/international action if Sowore & others are not released within 48 hours.”
In 2019, global rights group, Amnesty International declared Sowore a prisoner of conscience for his detention for several months by the Nigerian leader for allegedly calling for a revolution. He was released after domestic and international pressure in December 2019.
Sowore, a former Presidential candidate is currently standing trial for alleged treason.
The police is yet to comment on his arrest.
By Abel Ejikeme