Robert Menendez, a US senator from New Jersey and member of the senate foreign relations committee, says the events surrounding the rearrest of Omoyele Sowore shows that Nigeria no longer has regards for the rule of law.
On Friday, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) rearrested Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, and Olawale Bakare, an activist, at the federal high court in Abuja less than 24 hours after they were released on the orders of the court.
There were rearrested less than 24 hours after their release after spending 124 days in detention.
Menendez, who said it seems President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware of what the secret police is “doing in his name”, added that Sowore ought to be celebrated and not incarcerated.
He said the development is unacceptable from a country that practices democracy, pushing for a reassessment of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and US.
“The United States is watching and the world is watching. I fear that the blatant harassment of Mr Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression, is becoming symptomatic of increasingly closing political and civic space in Nigeria,” Menendez said.
“The Nigerian court has twice ordered his release on bail. And the state security agencies openly defied the court order each time leaving me to conclude that either Nigeria no longer respects the rule of law or President Buhari is woefully out of touch with what agents of his governments are doing in his name.
“This is unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy. Journalists who risk their lives to expose the truth should be celebrated, not incarcerated.
“It is unacceptable to that the husband and father of a US citizen with such blatant cruelty. Today, my office contacted our ambassador in Nigeria in an effort to obtain answers on what actions the United States is taking on the Sowore family’s behalf.
“In the next several days, I’ll continue to engage with the states department in Washington to ascertain the impart of what the arrest of Mr Sowore and other activists and journalists will have on our relationship with Nigeria. My hope is that the bilateral relationship we have with Nigeria will be reassessed in light of these events.”
Last month, the lawmaker had written a letter to Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s ambassador to US, over the crack down on journalists and activists”.
– The Cable
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