Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has expressed confidence in possible release of activists Mr Omoyele Sowore and Mr. Olawale Bakare who remained in the arbitrary detention of Federal security agents despite a court order for their release. The organisation’s expression of confidence followed the response of Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Portal Welby to an earlier open letter for intervention in the matter.
SERAP had on November 11, 2019, in an open letter to Archbishop of Canterbury, urged him to use his good offices and leadership and his “friendship with President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on him to promote the rule of law in words and in action by obeying all court orders including the order for the releasing of Sowore and Bakare from arbitrary detention.
” Journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights. Sowore, was arrested on August 3 by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) for planning a protest.”
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but the security agents have continued to refuse to release them despite being served with the court orders.
SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare who made the response of the Archbishop known in a statement, Tuesday, expressed delight over the positive response. SERAP had in the earlier letter expressed “serious concerns about the disturbing trends by state governments and federal government to use the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights.”
Responding on behalf of the Archbishop through an email last night, Dominic Goodall, the Chief Correspondence Officer at the Lambeth Palace, read: “Thank you for your recent letter. Much as he would like to, the Archbishop is unable to respond personally in detail, so I have been asked to reply to you on his behalf.” Goodall’s email read in part: “Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and concerns on this matter, which have been noted. Please be assured that I will communicate your concerns to the Archbishop and his staff team, so that they are aware of your concerns. Thank you again for taking the time to write.”
Oluwadare said: “We are very delighted that our letter and the concerns that it raises have caught the attention of the Archbishop. Given his public record for justice and human rights, we have absolutely no doubt that he will prevail on President Buhari to obey not just the court order for the release of Sowore and Bakare but all court orders. “But it should never have reached this level, as the government ought to have obeyed court orders as a matter of routine”
SERAP also said, “As the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, we believe you can reaffirm your belief in justice, rule of law and the basic human rights of all people by speaking out with a strong voice against the repeated disobedience of court orders and the implicitly lack of respect by the government for the integrity and authority of the Nigerian judiciary.”