Wole Soyinka appeared at the Federal High Court in Abuja today, reports the Nigerian newspaper Punch, to show solidarity with Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian journalist, Sahara Reporters publisher, and 2019 presidential candidate who has been in custody since convening the #RevolutionNow movement. Also on trial along with Sowore is Olawale Bakare. Soyinka arrived at 8:50 a.m.
Sowore and Bakare were first arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on August 3 and 5, 2019, respectively, in Lagos and Osun states, for calling on Nigerians to join a peaceful demonstration demanding better governance from the administration of Muhammadu Buhari. They were released on bail in December. Soyinka had earlier issued a statement right after their arrests.
Here is Sowore’s tweet from yesterday about Soyinka’s then-coming appearance.
— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) February 11, 2020
The trial was adjourned till tomorrow, Thursday, after the Federal Government, through counsel A. Aliyu, dropped its charges of money laundering and cyberstalking, only to announce the the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had taken over the prosecution and was now filing fresh charges. Muhammadu Buhari’s government is now accusing Sowore of attempting to overthrow it. Here is a statement of the charge, as reported by Sahara Reporters:
That you Omoyele Stephen Sowore, Olawale Adebayo Bakare and others at large under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos, and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire amongst yourselves to stage a revolution campaign on the 5th day of August 2019 tagged #RevolutionNow aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during his term of office otherwise than by constitutional means.
Sowore and Bakare’s attorney Olumide Fusika asked the prosecution to serve his clients with the necessary documents on the new and previous charges before they would consider taking a plea on the new charge.
For the unnecessary delay and consequent adjournment, the judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, ordered the Nigerian Government to pay N200,000 (almost $551) each to Sowore and Bakare.
Here is a video of Sowore after court today. Credit: Premium Times.
Graph image of Sowore credited to Naija News.