Commercial Law

SERAP writes UN over Sowore, others detention.

By Olalekan Awojodu
Abuja

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have
demanded the release of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters and
activist, Omoyele Sowore and others from the police custody.

This was contained in a complaint letter sent by SERAP to the United
Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Tuesday.

The organization also ordered a probe into the activist’s arrest and detention.
Sowore alongside Juwon Sanyaolu, Peter Williams, Emmanuel Bulus, and
Damilare Adenola it would be recalled, were arrested for holding a protest against bad governance on New Year’s Eve in Abuja.

They were thereafter remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre on the order
of a Magistrates’ Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja pending the consideration of their bail applications.

In a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said
the complaint was sent to the UN body on Monday, January 4.

Part of the statement reads: “The detention of Omoyele Sowore and four other activists constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty
because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also
does not meet minimum international standards of due process.

“The arrest, continued detention and torture and ill-treatment of Mr Sowore and four other activists solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and
International Human Rights Law. They are now facing bogus charges
simply for exercising their human rights;

“We urge the Working Group to request the Nigerian government to
investigate and hold accountable all police officers and security
agents suspected to be responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued
detention, and torture and other ill-treatment of Mr Sowore and four
other activists”.

The organisation also wants the Federal Government to award Sowore and four other activists compensation “for the violations they suffered as
a result of their unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, torture, and
other ill-treatment.

Meanwhile, at the Tuesday hearing, Sowore was spotted in handcuffs as
he arrived the Wuse Zone 2, Abuja Chief Magistrates’ Court for trial
at about 10:28am.

Sowore and his accomplices were arraigned on three-count charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others.

But the activists pleaded not guilty to the charges, just as their supporters thronged the court premises to witness the proceedings.

A bail application in respect of the release is currently before Chief Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello.

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