“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 2019 general elections and Convener of the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy, Omoyele Sowore, is in the gulag of the Department of State Security (DSS) cooling his feet after his recent revolutionary adventurism. A crusade he ordinarily launched on the social media, but which suddenly went viral and snowballed into a windy storm that shook the nation. Like others of his kind in history, he must have prepared his mind for the bargain, knowing the price that often accompanies attempts for change of the status quo.
What he might not have, however, factored into his move was the interpretation now being given to his call for the change of the social disorder in the country. By the relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, peaceful protest is recognized as part of the fundamental rights of the citizens. But the DSS went a notch higher in its so-called investigation, alleging that Sowore’s action had a link with the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafara (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and other foreign terrorist groups.
In its submission before the Federal High Court, Abuja, the DSS claimed that Sowore was caught on video where he met with Nnamdi Kanu and also connived with a Shi’ite group to use the #RevolutionNow protest to forcefully remove the Nigerian government from power, an act it termed a treasonable felony under Section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act. Godwin Agbadua, a lawyer representing the DSS, while arguing the motion on Tuesday, tendered two Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs), one of which contained a recording of Sowore’s meeting in New York with Nnamdi Kanu and another containing an interview he allegedly had with equally proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) with a deal to join forces to bring down the government. The DSS further said in a supporting affidavit to the motion that it arrested Sowore “on reasonable suspicion of his involvement in terrorist activities,” claiming that he held series of meetings with some foreign groups outside Nigeria, including Dubai, where millions of dollars was given to him to sponsor widespread attacks in the country, with a view to freeing Ibrahim Yaqub El-Zakzaky.
According to the operatives’ statement of evidence, Sowore, after some closed-door meetings with the two groups in the United States of America, addressed a press conference, where they resolved to form an alliance against the Nigerian government. It was on the strength of the evidence submitted before the court that Justice Taiwo Obayomi Taiwo, gave a ruling on an ex-parte motion that the agency could go ahead and detain him for 45 days in the first instance, and then renew its request to complete its investigation.
These are surely not part of Sowore’s bargains for his fight for the freedom of the ordinary Nigerians who had suffered years of oppression, hunger, deprivation, despondence and near hopelessness. It’s a raging tempest; a popular fight for the emancipation of the downtrodden, which would never come on a platter of gold. So, it promises to be a long running battle. With the twists and turns of the event, Sowore may have to remain in incarceration a bit more than expected, as the DSS insists that “investigation has assumed a wider dimension and sophistication requiring time and advance expertise to conclude.”
Sowore has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Planning from the University of Lagos. He later obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Columbia. At the University of Lagos, Sowore was the President of Students’ Union Government (SUG) between 1992-1994. In 1992, he marshalled over 2,000 students in protest against the then Major General Ibrahim Babangida-led military government. Sowore was then apprehended and tortured. He started Sahara Reporters, an online platform, in a tiny room in Manhattan in 2006 to oppose wrong and corrupt government practices with the support of Omidyar Foundation and Ford Foundation.
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, says Sowore is being sponsored by some bad losers who lost out in the last general elections to destabilize the country for selfish reasons.