Sowore: SERAP Takes Case of Arbitrary Detention to the UN

Sowore: SERAP Takes Case of Arbitrary Detention to the UN

…Says it Constitutes An Arbitrary Deprivation of their Liberty, Has No Legal Justification  …Does Not Meet Minimum International Standards of Due Process …Violates Nigerian Constitution on Freedom of Expression, Right to Peaceful Assembly The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over

…Says it Constitutes An Arbitrary Deprivation of their Liberty, Has No Legal Justification

 …Does Not Meet Minimum International Standards of Due Process

…Violates Nigerian Constitution on Freedom of Expression, Right to Peaceful Assembly

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment of Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore and four other activists “simply for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

SERAP said: “The Working Group should request the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the bogus charges against Mr Sowore and four other activists, and to immediately and unconditionally release them.”

In the complaint dated 4 January, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The detention of Omoyele Sowore and four other activists constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also does not meet minimum international standards of due process.”

According to SERAP, “The arrest, continued detention and torture and ill-treatment of Mr Sowore and four other activists solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international human rights law. They are now facing bogus charges simply for exercising their human rights.”

SERAP is calling on the Working Group to “initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the detention, torture and bogus charges against Mr Sowore and four other activists, and to urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian government inquiring about the case generally, and specifically about the legal basis for their arrest, detention, torture and other ill-treatment, each of which is in violation of international human rights law.”

SERAP is also urging the Working Group to “issue an opinion declaring that the deprivation of liberty and detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists is arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international human rights law. We also urge the Working Group to call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

According to SERAP, “We urge the Working Group to request the Nigerian government to investigate and hold accountable all police officers and security agents suspected to be responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and torture and other ill-treatment of Mr Sowore and four other activists.”

SERAP is also calling on the Working Group “to request the Nigerian government to award Mr Sowore and four other activists adequate compensation for the violations they have suffered as a result of their unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment.”

SERAP also argued that: “A detention is arbitrary when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty. Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which confirms the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, guarantees that no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”

The complaint addressed to Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Chairman/Rapporteur of the Working Group, reads in part: “The Human Rights Committee has interpreted this right to mean that procedures for carrying out legally authorized deprivation of liberty should also be established by law and State parties should ensure compliance with their legally prescribed procedures.

“Pursuant to the mandate of the Working Group, the “Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council” and the publication “Working with the UN Human Rights Programme, a Handbook for Civil Society”, SERAP, a non-governmental human rights organization, can provide information on a specific human rights case or situation in a particular country, or on a country’s laws and practices with human rights implications.

“SERAP therefore argues that the case adequately satisfies the requirements by which to submit an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“SERAP is therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the continuing detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists to be arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law.

“Accordingly, it is hereby requested that the Working Group consider this Individual Complaint a formal request for an opinion of the Working Group pursuant to Resolution 1997/50 of the Commission on Human Rights, as reiterated by Resolutions 2000/36, 2003/31, and Human Rights Council Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, and 24/7.

“SERAP respectfully requests the Working Group to initiate the procedure involving the investigation of individual cases toward reaching an opinion declaring the detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists to be arbitrary and in violation of international human rights law. To this end, SERAP will pursue the regular communications procedure before the Working Group in order to have the ability to provide comments on any response by the Nigerian government.

“On the midnight of 1st January, 2021, Mr Sowore and four other activists were arrested by the officers of Nigeria Police Force, particularly men dispatched from Apo Division, Abuja, at the #CrossoverWithProtest, a planned procession across the country on New Year Eve. They were reportedly subjected to severe torture and other ill-treatment, and Sowore was left with bruises in his nose and all over his body in an apparently the use of excessive force by the police officers.

“Sowore and four other activists were arraigned at the Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2 on Monday, 4th January, 2021 on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others. Sowore denied all the charges, but the Magistrate ordered that he, alongside other activists, be remanded in Kuje Prison. He was denied access to his friends and family for days. The authorities have also refused to provide him with medical attention despite overt marks of torture and other ill-treatment he reportedly suffered.”

Also Nigeria’s right coalition, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) has asked the police authorities to release Sowore, without delay.

In a release issued on Sunday, HEDA urged the police to release Sowore who was on bail for treason charges considered by many as trumped up, before his recent arrest.

The statement signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said the arrest of Sowore on New Year eve was an ill thought action to compound his current face off with Nigerian authorities.

The police arrested Sowore on December 31 while he was leading a political vigil organised against corruption and bad governance.

HEDA said Sowore ought to have been granted bail by the police but that instead he was kept and compelled to spend the traditional cross over night behind bars.

The group said it may be compelled to renew another global campaign that will embarrass the Nigerian government if he was not released or charged to competent court of law.

“We call for the unconditional release of the Sahara Reporters Publisher, Mr Omoyele Sowore. He was arrested on December 31 and has yet to be taken to court. The police should release him without any further delay,” HEDA said.

It described Sowore as a victim of political persecution whose tormentors are anxious to bring down because of his online medium which is noted for being critical of the Nigerian authorities

“Since 2019, the Nigerian government has been keeping Sowore in detention on trumped up charges. His recent ordeal leading to his arrest on New Year eve is in furtherance of a plot to ensure his continuous incarceration by the Nigerian government,” HEDA said.

Meanwhile, the Magistrate court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, has ordered the remand of Sowore and four others at Kuje Correctional Centre in the nation’s capital.

Their formal bail application is expected to be heard on Tuesday, January 5, 2020.

Sowore and other activists were arrested by the police for leading a “crossover protest” against “bad governance” on New Year’s Eve in Abuja.

They are being arraigned on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

 

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Top Authors

Most Commented

Featured Videos