It’s no more news that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami, through the DG, has ordered the Department of State Security, DSS to release Omoyele Sowore after spending 124 days.
Despite two court order to effect Sowore’s release, the federal government and the Department of State Security (DSS) failed to comply with court rulings with continued incarceration of the Sowore, who was accused of trying to overthrow the FG with his call for revolution.
The Buhari administration has come under several condemnation form both local and international community due to her action on Sowore’s detention, likening this administration to a military dictatorship ruling.
However, new evidence has came to light since Sowore’s release around 6pm on Christmas eve that the govt released Sowore due to immense pressure from the United States.
The US govt had threaten Buhari, stating that his failure to comply with court order would mean that the White House might severe all relationship with the 77-year-old president.
Leaked letter from the United States Congress, date December 20, 2019 showed how four US Senators and two Congress Men wrote letter to the Nigerian Government demanding the releases of Omoyele Sowore, who is the publisher of US based online news publication; The Sahara Reporters.
In their letter, the US Congress states that;
“ Mr. Attorney General, we request that you take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of Mr. Sowore while he is held in government custody; 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.
Indefinite detention in defiance of court orders and/or unfairly conducting Mr. Sowore’s legal prosecution will only serve to tarnish Nigeria’s international reputation and its standing as a leading African democracy.
Doing so risks empowering other voices who would seek to work against you.
Your leadership in facilitating genuine progress toward respect for the rule of law can continue to pave the way for closer ties between the United States and Nigeria for years to come, strengthening continue economic growth, development and security cooperation.
We urge you to show leadership in this case and on critical issues.”
Why do you think President Buhari ordered the release of Omoyele Sowore after consistently defying court orders?
Meanwhile, Newsflash247 had earlier reported that the local and the international pressure on the Federal government appears to have yielded fruit with the ordered release on bail of journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and an influential former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The attorney general, Abubakar Malami gave the order in a statement released in Abuja on Christmas Eve.
The statement overrides the Department of State Security (DSS)’s decision to ignore court orders for release on bail of the two.
Dasuki has been held in detention since 2015 while Sowore has been held since Aug. 3, 2019. Two courts have previously ordered the release of the two on bail without DSS complying with the order.
The attorney-general made it clear the two defendants are not free from the charges against them. “The two defendants are enjoined to observe the terms of their bail and refrain from engaging in any act that is inimical to public peace and national security as well as their ongoing trial which will run its course in accordance with the laws of the land.”
Sowore, for instance, will not be able to return to his family in New Jersey for Christmas because the terms of his bail restricted him to Abuja.
In his first public statement as he emerged from DSS detention, Sowore said to the media: “The only thing is to thank Nigerians; they made this happen; they should not relent,” he said. “Nobody can take a people who are determined for granted.”
While Sowore has been in detention since August, it was his dramatic forcible re-arrest earlier this month in an Abuja court less than 24 hours after being released on bail that drew international attention and heavy criticism at home and abroad for the Nigerian government.
Sowore, who ran for presidential office against president Buhari in February has been accused of attempting to organize a revolution against the government.
Just last week, US Senators Robert Menendez, Charles Schumer, Christopher Coons, Cory A. Booker and US House of Representatives Bill Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer, sent a letter to Nigeria’s Attorney General of Nigeria.
In the letter they reminded Malami Nigeria risked losing its standing as a leading democracy in Africa, its close relationship with the United States and have its name tarnished if the government continued to ignore court order to release Sowore.
While many in Nigeria had taken this case as singular matter between one journalist Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, and the Nigerian government, it quickly ballooned, giving Nigeria a bad name at a time when it could not afford one. But more importantly, it is most likely going to lead to permanent policy changes with countries that have been supportive of various efforts by Buhari’s government to restore security across Nigeria.
Last week, at the US House of Representative’s Committee on Oversight and Reform sitting on the subject of US Counterterrorism Priorities and Challenges in Africa, Judd Devermont, the Africa Program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies advised US lawmakers to stand up for human rights and democracy. He said such a stance was fundamental to US counterterrorism strategy. “If a government is guilty of gross human rights violations, it is in the US interest to first withhold assistance and then take all necessary measures to resume engagement.” In 2017, Nigeria received $644 million in foreign aid from the United States.
Devermont, a former National Security Council director for Somalia, Nigeria, Sahel and the African Union told lawmakers that, “In African countries, when there is media pressure on their governments, when they shed light on abuses, I think that is probably the most effective anecdote to the problem set than necessarily the international community wagging their fingers.”
Within Nigeria, there were cracks even within the government and its allies outside on how the Sowore matter was being handled.
A court in Abuja took a bold step to summon the head of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi and Malami, to appear before it on Dec. 23, 2019, to explain why the government was still holding Sowore.
While Sowore’s case had attained international coverage partly due to the fact Sahara Reporters is based in New York and Sowore is a resident of New Jersey, the case of Sambo Dasuki has been a much more domestic and political affair.
Dasuki was originally arrested on Dec. 1, 2015 by the DSS. He was held on charges of stealing over $2.1 billion, money that was meant to buy arms for the Nigerian military fighting Boko Haram Islamic Insurgency in the North East.
Four different judges have granted Dasuki bail over the years. Even ECOWAS court granted him bail but the Nigerian government ignored the orders. He was held in a cell next to Sowore. The irony of their release on the same day is Dasuki believes that he was locked up because of stories about him that Sahara Reporters published over the years.
Nigeria’s decision to order their release on bail soon after he took over the case is an indication that there is an opening for a political resolution of the issue.
In the meantime there is little relief for the friends and families of Dasuki who will be able to celebrate the holidays with him for the first time since 2015.