Wole Soyinka Centre Postpones Award To Osinbajo In Protest Against Sowore’s Rearrest
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) says it has postponed the integrity award to be presented to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to protest against Omoyele Sowore’s rearrest in court.
In a statement on Monday, the centre said honouring Osinbajo with the award in the light of recent protests against Sowore’s travails and the “repression“ of free speech will be inappropriate.
The WSCIJ earlier announced that it would present an ‘integrity specialty of the anti-corruption defender award’ to the vice-president at its annual award ceremony in Lagos.
It had said the recognition is for Osinbajo’s “invaluable work of overhauling the Lagos State Judiciary, facilitating far-reaching reforms in the administration of justice in the state, his work of promoting integrity in the civil society and business in Nigeria and his consistency as a strong voice for promoting integrity in the country”.
But the vice-president has been called out over the current administration’s clamp down on free speech and Sowore’s trial.
Although the activist was finally released after various court orders, he was re-arrested in a dramatic scene on Friday when he returned to court for his trial.
In the statement signed by Motunrayo Alaka, its executive director, WSCIJ said the award ceremony will go on as scheduled, but it was silent on whether the award will be presented to the vice-president on a new date.
The statement read: “The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has postponed the presentation of award to the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. The postponement was decided on, to align with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times especially the incident between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoleye Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters, on Friday 6 December. The Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point.
“The award presentation programme will hold as scheduled on Monday, 9th December 2019 by 6pm. 13 journalists from print, online, television, radio, photo, and editorial cartoon categories will be celebrated. Veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole and Amnesty International Nigeria will also be presented honorary awards of the Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence and the Anti-Corruption Defender Award (Human Rights Specialty) respectively.
“The WSCIJ holds the award presentation event on December 9, the World Anti-Corruption Day and eve of the World Human Rights Day to highlight the importance of investigative reporting as a tool for accountability, good governance and social justice in a democracy. The award event is free to attend for members of the general public.”
Sowore: “You Owe Nigerians An Explanation’ – Sagay Tells DSS
Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) on Sunday faulted the re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore by the Directorate of State Services (DSS).
He said the secret service owed Nigerians an explanation for invading the premises of a Federal High Court in Abuja to re-arrest Sowore.
The DSS said in a statement that Sowore “resorted to acts inimical to security” shortly after being released from custody.
“The service is committed to the discharge of its mandate of detecting and preventing threats against the internal security of Nigeria,” the DSS said in a statement by its spokesman, Dr Peter Afunanya.
But, Sagay said: “I agree that the DSS (operatives) have their job. They don’t need the approval of the Presidency to do their job. So, no one should blame the Presidency for anything the DSS does.
“However, the re-arrest of Sowore looks bad on the surface in the sense that the man was released a day earlier, and he was in court the next day to answer the charges and he is arrested.
“I feel that Nigerians are entitled to an explanation. It’s not something you can do and keep quiet. It’s not alright. There is something wrong in that. They could have a good reason, but they should tell us what that reason is.
“They cannot be quiet about it and if they are justified, I will be the first to say yes. But they cannot do it and keep quiet and expect everybody to accept it.”
On DSS, reason for re-arresting Sowore, Sagay said: “The question I have is: the offence they are re-arresting him for, did he commit it after he was released? That is very critical.
“If it is something he had said before, then I don’t see any justification for his re-arrest, because he has been given bail.
“But if it is something fresh – maybe he said something after he was released that constitutes a security risk or is a danger to the country – then they should make it clear so that we are not confused.”
The Presidency described Sowore as “the agitator”, who must be a “person of interest” to the DSS after openly calling for a revolution.
“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in far away New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu. This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers,” it said.
Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa (SAN), expressed surprise at the Presidency’s response “on a matter that is already subjudice.”
According to him, the Presidency seems to be embarking on a media trial against Sowore.
Olu-Adegboruwa said the Presidency disrespected the courts by commenting on a pending case.
He said Sowore remains innocent until proved guilty.
“It is a little surprising and worrisome that the Presidency seems to have embarked on a media trial, a matter that is already pending in court,” he said.
Besides, he said Sowore could possibly not have escaped since his passports had already been seized.
“Somebody has already been granted bail by a court, his international passport has been deposited with the court, and he has been restricted to the city of Abuja, according to the terms of the bail.
“How does such a person escape? He has no means of travelling and then he’s already on bail,” Adegboruwa said.
He called for a meeting between the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation to consult on possible steps to be taken to protect judges and the courts from further invasion.
He also wants the DSS to be made to account for the events of December 6 and for immediate disengagement of the DSS leadership and all its officers involved in the invasion.
“Henceforth, let the Bar get its members who are involved in any government to be held accountable for any breach of the rule of law by the government and its officers and agencies,” Adegboruwa said.
A rights group, the Access to Justice (A2Justice), condemned DSS’ action in a statement by its Convener Joseph Otteh and Programme Officer, Daniel Aloaye
“A government that promised to abide the rule of law now virtually has the rule of law, largely unpretentiously, under the jackboot, defying numerous orders of courts,” it said.
The group said a government using economic diplomacy to attract foreign investment to create jobs shoots itself in the foot by its autocratic domestic behaviour.
“Investments and capital are hardly attracted by environments where the rule of law is absent or where courts are systematically disrespected or trampled upon,” A2Justice said.
The group urged the judiciary to fight for its life and refuse to be cowed.
A2Justice urged Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad to convene an urgent “Save Nigeria judiciary” meeting of judicial officers to explore ways of responding to both the escalating incidence of disrespect of the courts.
Sowore: APC Attacks Atiku, PDP For Condemning Buhari, DSS
Recall that DSS operatives on Friday re-arrested Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow campaign, a situation that has generated local and international criticisms.
In a statement Sunday night, Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary, said Atiku and the PDP chose to present and spread concocted alternative facts and lies on the incident.
It said the presidency has clarified that the DSS does not necessarily need the president’s permission in all cases to carry out its essential and constitutional responsibilities.“Whether Sowore flouted any of his bail conditions or staged the incident in court is another matter which the court and the prosecuting agency should address”, APC stated.
“Atiku, in his horrid statement particularly, accused the DSS of attacking the presiding judge among other lies being chorused by the PDP and their hirelings. Documentary evidence such as videos and pictures have shown that the tales are a complete ruse until anyone is able to present contrary evidence.
“If Atiku’s intervention was sincere, having realized the truth, he has not deemed it proper to apologise to Nigerians for misinforming them on the incident. Instead, he hangs shamelessly on his lies. A commentator has correctly described Atiku as “the king of the bandwagon”.
“The PDP and Atiku, in their dubious attempt at painting the APC government bad by all means, have chosen to exercise no restraint whatsoever in spreading falsehood. We would continue to reiterate the need for Nigerians to be wary of these people who are bent on bringing our country down.
“The APC, therefore, unequivocally rejects the inciting messages and criminal antics of some individuals and partisans who have embarked on a campaign of calumny against this administration and are calling for a forceful takeover of government. They are cowards and enemies of Nigeria.
“We call on Nigerians to look at the issue of Sowore’s arrest and subsequent trial dispassionately and devoid of the skewed narratives and sentiments being propagated by the likes of Atiku and PDP.
“Sowore contested and woefully lost the 2019 presidential election, garnering a meagre 33,953 votes compared to the winner, President Muhammadu Buhari, who polled over 15 million votes. He left the country afterwards and held talks, with pictures to prove, with another wanted secessionist. He returned to the country and openly threatened to lead a violent revolution against a democratically elected government.
“Our laws are clear on treason and Nigerians would expect decisive actions from our law enforcement agencies and government. Any attempt to truncate our democracy and threaten our collective peace and safety must and will be resisted using the full weight and instrumentalities of the law.”
Wole Soyinka Centre Postpones Award To Osinbajo In Protest Against Sowore’s Rearrest
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