The Presidency on on Sunday has released a statement as to the reason why Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore was re-arrested by the Department of State Services.
The government in a statement said Sowore “is a person of interest to the DSS” because he 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,” the government said in a statement shared on social media.
The presidency reactions came days after Sowore was dramatically re-arrested just hours after being freed on bail by a federal court. There are media claims that Sowore was re-arrested in the court on Friday but the DSS said the re-arrest was effected outside the courtroom.
His lawyer Femi Falana told AFP on Friday that his client escaped being picked up by DSS on the court premises. He said he “personally drove him” to DSS office on Friday “to avoid violence”.
Falana said the secret police told him Sowore was needed
Sowore is being held by Nigeria’s intelligence agency since his arrest on August 3 — despite two court orders granting him bail. The journalist was released briefly on Thursday after a federal court gave the intelligence agency a 24-hour ultimatum to release Sowore pending his trial.
The controversial re-arrest added to growing concerns about Nigeria’s democracy and press freedom which critics say is under pressure.
Bob Menendez, a US Senator from New Jersey, where Sowore’s family is based, described his rearrest as a “blatant miscarriage of justice [which] is symptomatic of closing political and media space in Nigeria.” Menendez said he will be working with the US Ambassador to Nigeria to secure Sowore’s release.
Nigerian government described Sowore’s call for revolution as an “armed revolution” which is “not normal amongst ‘human rights activists.”