January 24, 2021

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A former United States of America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has reacted to the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters by the Nigerian police.

He also condemned the failure of the court to grant the activist and other arrested protesters bail.

Mr Campbell who is currently the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow For Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington D.C., said in a piece on Tuesday that the current situation is a poor representation of Nigeria to the incoming Joe Biden’s administration.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Sowore and four others were arrested during a protest tagged #CrossOverProtest held on December 31 in Abuja.

They were subsequently arraigned before a magistrate’s court in Wuse Zone 2 on Monday on charges of unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance.

The magistrate, Taye Maibel, ordered them remanded in Kuje Correctional Prison detention till the following day when the court heard their bail application.

The magistrate, however, denied the activists’ bail application filed by Marshal Abubakar from Femi Falana Chambers. She denied the application after the police counsel faulted the submission of a joint affidavit for the five accused persons in the case.

Ms Maibel, after listening to the two counsel, ordered Mr Sowore and the others taken to Force CIID in Area 10, in Abuja till January 8.

In reaction to this, Mr Campbell said many of those who benefit from Nigeria’s political economy, not least the police, detest Mr Sowore and it may damage the country’s international reputation.

“Instigation for his arrest could have a variety of sources, not necessarily including the presidency. The episode, if not quickly resolved, could further damage Nigeria’s international reputation – particularly among the diaspora living in the United States.

“The incoming Biden administration has signaled that it will be deeply concerned about human rights issues. The arrest of Sowore and the denial of bail is a poor representation of Nigeria to the incoming administration.”

In addition, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that it had sent a complaint to the United Nation Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over illegal detention and reported torture of Mr Sowore.

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“We’re seeking their immediate release & withdrawal of the bogus charges against them”, SERAP said.

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