Prof. Wole Soyinka has blasted the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for charging activist, Omoyele Sowore with treason. Says his government has attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.
Sowore was arrested for planning to stage a revolutionary protest, tagged: ‘#RevolutionNow.’ The Department of State Service, DSS, later got the nod of a Federal High court in Abuja to detain him for 45 days.
On the eve of the expiration of the 45 days, the Federal Government Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against Sowore. Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, was charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.
Soyinka, in a statement on Saturday said the news that Sowore had been charged with treason was utterly depressing, saying that the affair had moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction.
“This is utterly depressing news. So, 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,” Soyinka stated.
However, the charge was signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The charge was filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.
The detention order elapses on September 21.
In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant 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”.
The prosecution also accused them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
It also accused Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “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.”
It also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of SWIFT wire.