Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and a civil society group, Peoples Alternative Front (PAF) have condemned the treason and money laundering charges pressed against the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
It would be recalled that the federal government had on Friday, September 20 filed a seven-count charge of fraud and treasonable felony against Sowore, who was the candidate African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 presidential election.
Sowore, whose detention order elapsed on September 21, was alleged to have made several transfers of $19,975 on April 2, 2019; $20,475 on May 21, 2019; $16,975 on June 27, 2019, and another $16,975 on July 16, 2019 from his domiciliary account with the intention to conceal the origin of the money.
He was also accused of cyber stalking offences in violation of section 24(1) (b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act by disseminating “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The government also accused Sowore and his co-defendant Mr. Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate, of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Reacting to the development, Soyinka, in a statement, described it as “depressing” stressing that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari “has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.”
“This is utterly depressing news. The Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction.
“Outside the country where I happened to be engaged at the moment, I can testify that the immediate reaction around me was to dismiss this as yet another grotesque product of Fake News, of which Nigerians have become the greatest practitioners.
“I confess that I also joined in this school of thought – at the start. Further checks have however confirmed that this government has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.
“I do not believe that the Justice department itself believes in these improbable charges, as formally publicised.
“So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, History still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn. Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.”
Similarly, PAF described as unfounded, allegations of terrorism, treason and money laundering charges.
In a statement on Sunday signed by the group’s secretary, Mr. Aloysius Eze said Sowore was arrested and detained for insulting the president.
“After detaining Mr. Sowore for almost two months the SSS found no evidence to substantiate the reckless allegations. Instead of releasing him from illegal custody Mr. Sowore has now been charged with insulting President Buhari by criticizing him at Arise Television interview and treasonable felony by planning to stage protests against unpopular government policies on August 5, 2019.
“Mr. Sowore has also been charged with money laundering for transferring the sum of $19,975 (N7.2m) from his personal bank account to Sahara Reporters, an online medium published by him!
“With respect to Mr. Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate) he was arrested in Osogbo, Osun State during the revolution protest on August 5. Other comrades arrested with him have been charged with unlawful assembly at the Magistrate Court, Osogbo, Osun State by the Nigeria Police Force.
“All efforts to contact Mandate since then have proved abortive as the SSS had denied detaining him. Mandate who has been held incommunicado contrary to Section 2 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, has now been charged with treasonable felony along with Mr. Sowore.
“Since it has been established that both patriots have been detained for several weeks for terrorism without any legal basis we hereby demand for their unconditional release from the illegal custody of the SSS.
“We also call on the inspector general of police to release Messrs Agba Jalingo and Ekanem Ekpo being detained in police custody for terrorism for insulting Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River State by publishing allegations of official corruption in Cross River State.
“We agree with Mr. Femi Falana that there can be no legal or moral basis for harassing patriotic citizens by the Buhari regime which is currently negotiating with terrorists and bandits, bribing them with public funds and granting them amnesty for arson and looting, gang raping women, kidnapping and killing innocent people,” said PAF.