Nigeria court prolongs detention of ex-presidential candidate over calling for a revolution

Thursday August 8, 2019

 

A Nigerian court on Thursday ruled security forces can hold a former presidential candidate for 45 days without trial after he was detained for calling for a revolution.


Omoyele Sowore, a fierce critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, was picked up over the weekend by the Department of State Services (DSS) secret police after calling for protests under the banner "#RevolutionNow".


Several dozen of Sowore's supporters still gathered in Lagos on Monday for the protest, but were quickly dispersed by police firing teargas.

Several demonstrators were also arrested.

On Tuesday, the DSS filed an application before the federal high court in Abuja seeking to keep the 48-year-old activist and founder of online Sahara Reporters for 90 days.

Judge Taiwo Taiwo in his ruling said he would allow the DSS to keep Sowore for an initial 45 days, but that could be renewed "if investigation is not concluded".

The judge said he was granting the detention order based on evidence including video of Sowore meeting with fugitive Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu and vows to woo Shiite supporters to support the revolution.

"I have looked at the facts presented by the applicant. I will fail in my duties if I do not act on those facts at least until the contrary is proven," the judge said.

The case was adjourned to September 21.

Sowore, whose outlet frequently highlights alleged official graft, was accused by the DSS of having "crossed the line" and threatening public safety by calling for a revolution.

His arrest has been widely condemned by prominent Nigerians, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.