OrderPaperToday – The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom has urged the Federal government to as a matter of urgency, release Omoyele Sowore, the Publisher of Sahara reporters.
Sowore, a key organiser of a protest tagged #RevolutionNow against bad governance in Nigeria was arrested by security operatives on Monday and still in their custody.
Several citizens involved in the protesters across the country were also arrested.
Sowore was arrested on the grounds of treason but a statement on Wednesday by the coalition condemned the arrest while stressing the right for Freedom of Expression as contained in the Nigerian constitution.
The statement reads: “The arrest of Mr. Sowore on allegations of treason is of grave concern to the Coalition. The constitution gives the right for Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Protests in section 22, 26 and 39 of the Nigerian constitution and these rights cannot be ignored by any individual or government, least of all a democratically elected government.
“In a democratic government, Chapter 9, Article 11 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights provides for Right to Freedom of Assembly Chapter 4 Section 40 of the Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right to freedom of assembly.
“According to the Press Attack Tracker, in the last 5 years of this current administration, violations against the press has shot up by 70% in comparison to the previous administration.”
The group recalled past incidents of infringement on press freedom in the current administration. Sahara reporters is a member of the coalition.
The statement said: “Several members of this coalition have suffered harassments and infringement of their rights, the most recent being the threats of reprisals on the publisher and members of staff of OrderPaper by Honorable Tony Nwulu a member of the House of Representatives.
“Outside of the coalition, the persistent name-calling and harassment of Amnesty Nigeria, an international human rights organisation is another disturbing sign of how far off-kilter the country and its administrators have fallen.
“The coalition reiterates that no democracy worth its salt can abide by these violations of constitutionally guaranteed rights and thus calls on President Muhammadu Buhari, who has sworn an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution, to immediately release Mr Omoyele Sowore with all allegations against him dropped.”