Human rights activist and President, Women Arise and Centre for Change, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, has condemned the illegal arrest of human rights activist and Amnesty International-designated Prisoner of Conscience, Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.
Sowore was at the court in the hope of attending the trials of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and five #BuhariMustGo protesters arrested at Dunamis Gospel Church, Abuja by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Sowore has been one of the front-line voices who condemned the recent re-arrest and repatriation of Kanu to Nigeria.
The activist had called for the unconditional release of the IPOB leader, who was controversially arrested in Kenya.
Reacting in a statement titled, ‘Stop the harassment of journalists’, Okei-Odumakin urged security operatives to respect the country’s constitution and not to the government of the day.
She said, “The publisher of Hope For Nigeria Online and convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, was arrested earlier today by security operatives. Sowore was sighted earlier in the day around the court premises probably to attend the scheduled court session on the fundamental rights abuse case involving five activists arrested at Dunamis Church, Abuja.
“Reports have it that Sowore was released later in the day by the security operatives. These must stop. The freedoms, liberties, and fundamental rights of citizens are not at the whims and caprices of security operatives or of the government they purport to work for.
“Security operatives are public servants who owe their authority to the Constitution and not to the government of the day. Governments come and go but citizens remain the boss of those in government at all times.
“Regardless how sensitive a trial may be, the people deserve to be informed of goings-on. Whether the trial of the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, or that of the Yoruba self-determination activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, government must not muzzle the media.
“Sowore was accosted as he live-streamed activities around the court vicinity. His phone was also seized from him before he was whisked away. The camera belonging to Brock Media was equally snatched from the journalist, Yusuf Rock, while the journalist narrowly escaped arrest.
“All these harassment of journalists performing their lawful duty of informing the populace must cease. The media have been saddled with the responsibility of holding government accountable to the people. This duty they must be allowed to perform without shackles and hindrances of any sort. Once again it bears repeating that this is a democracy and a nation under law, not a dictatorship or banana republic.”