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US and the release of Sowore

The release of Omoyele Sowore and the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, barely 4 days after Nigeria descended to the Special Watch List of the United States shows that the victory did not belongs to the rule of law but to the threat of the United States.
United States had through her Secretary of State, Mike Pempeo, on 20th December, 2019 announced the placement of Nigeria on the list of countries that have record of violation of fundamental human right especially, freedom of religion and promised to continue to challenge state and non-state entities that seek to infringe upon these rights by ensuring that they are accounted for their actions.
In order for Nigeria to have the clue of what is likely to come, the Secretary narrated how they have designated 68 individuals and entities in nine countries for corruption and human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act.
Haven digested this message, the government who has refused to release Sowore for over three months and Dasuki for over three years despite several court injunctions mandating their release announced her intention to set the detainees free in less than four days.
Obviously, this release and the speed it takes, shows that the government is afraid of sanctions that might come from the US if they failed to comply with the abandoned court orders.
Prior to the United States threat, the Nigerian court has on several occasions ordered the release of the duo on bail but the state security agencies openly defied the court order by refusing to obey.
In the case of Sowore for instance, a Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had on 5th December, 2019 granted him bail which the Department of State Service (DSS) refused to obey. In fact, the response of the DSS was the invasion of the temple of Justice on 6th December.
Before the invasion, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, the Judge that granted DSS’ prayer to detain Sowore for 45 days on 8th August, had on 24th September, granted him bail but the agency refused to obey.
Similar action was displayed by the agency during the four years of illegal detention of Dasuki. Infact, not less than five injunctions were delivered by the court of comptent jurisdiction which the Government flagrantly disobeyed till the recent threat delivered by the US.
Though, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on 26th December, 2019, that their release revolved around the government commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds and not because of any extraneous consideration.
However, based on the public knowledge, there was no court sitting on this matter from 20th December, 2019 till 24th December, when they were released. The only order issued during this period was a threat demonstrated by putting the country on special watch list which features countries known for the voilation of human right.
Probably, the order of the court the minister of Justice was referring to might not be unconnected to the allegedly parallel court which the DSS always consult after visiting the normal court to know whether to comply with the court order or not.
So, haven discovered the level of US interest in Nigeria and the gravity of sanction that is likely to follow the warning in forms of “special watching list” especially, considering the yoke of sanctions on the neck of countries on the same list, the government quickly reverse to the court orders initially rejected.
For instance, Russian who tops the special watch list which Nigeria belongs is facing different sanctions from the Western countries while the top officials of China who happened to be the most popular country on the list of countries Nigeria is likely to move to if not for the quick reverser of “illegal detention policy” are facing Visa restrictions among others from the US.
Although, theoretically the reason the US enlisted Nigeria on her special watch list was not categorically stated but based on the trend of event, especially, considering the position of some of the US senators on the arrest of Sowore and other detainees before the enlistment on 20th December, it is obvious that the violation of human rights is largely the reason for threat.
One of the US Senators, Senator Robert Menendez had on 7th December, said that the continuous detention of Sowore by the state security agents is becoming symptomatic of the increasingly closing political and civic space in Nigeria and which ought not to be in a democratic setting.
Now that the US threat has taken the victory that ought to be ascribed to the rule of law, separation of power and constitutionalism, especially in the case of Sowore and Sambo, due to the actions and inactions of Nigerian government, it is high time the government begin to obey the rule of law by obeying court order.
This should start with the release of Ibrahim El Zakzaky, Agba Jalingo, and other detainees on the “illegal detention list” of both the State and the Federal governments. This is because, continuous disobedience to the rule of law will only encourage anarchy  and unrestricted interference in the nation’s internal affairs by the exploiters masquerading as saviour.
____ By Femi Oluwasanmi 

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