A Nigerian based in New York, United States of America, Ademola Bello, has said that the release of journalist, Omoyele Sowore, on Tuesday from months of unlawful detention by the Department of State Services, was never through the intervention of some Nigerian politicians as claimed in some quarters but down to the collective effort of the international community, the global media and the 48-year-old’s legal team led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria – Femi Falana.
An online newspaper in Nigeria had on Tuesday published a story where a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, had claimed that the release of Sowore was made possible through the intervention of four high-ranking persons in government.
Fani-Kayode in a post on Twitter listed those responsible to include Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
But swiftly debunking that notion, Bello, who together with prominent Nigerians in the United States including Opeyemi Sowore, wife of Sahara Reporters’ Publisher, worked tirelessly to bring the journalist’s plight to the knowledge of important individuals and groups in America, said that his release was down to all those efforts.
According to him, apart from leading US lawmakers and groups, the intervention of established media organisations like CBS, NBC, ABC, Democracy Now, CNN, New York Times, Sahara Reporters, PUNCH and Premium Times, went a long way in forcing the Nigerian Government to do the right thing by obeying court orders directing Sowore’s release.
Bello said, “The story credited to Femi Fani-Kayode on how Sowore was release is not only a misinformation, but also a hoax and fake.
“It undermines the role played by Mrs Opeyemi Sowore in securing her husband’s release, it undermines the international advocacy led by a small group of people in the United States including yours sincerely through the mobilisation of the international community, media coverage, outreach to organisations and elected officials, etc.
“All these efforts we made paid off in getting Omoyele Sowore released. And our international campaign in getting Sowore released possibly helped Dasuki’s as well.
“Moreover, the false claim and publication also undermines efforts made by US lawmakers, who sent letters to Mr Malami about releasing Sowore.
“The false publication also undermines the role played by the US Government through the State Department.
“More importantly, it undermined the role played by the Sowore legal team led by Mr Femi Falana (SAN).
“I can state authoritatively that Governor Kayode Fayemi did not play any role in securing the release of Sowore.
“Columbia University, the alma mater of Sowore wrote Fayemi an email letter to intervene regarding his detention. He ignored the letter sent by Prof Anya Schiffrin on behalf of Columbia University.
“I wrote a follow-up email letter to Mr Fayemi, he ignored it as well.
“Abba Kyari and Malami are two of the people responsible for Sowore’s detention. It is silly for any media organisation in Nigeria to credit the same people who inflicted pain and suffering on Sowore when they refused to obey the two court orders calling for his release.
“Hadi Sirika is a Buhari apologist, he did not play any role in securing Omoyele Sowore’s release.”
Sowore was first arrested on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand a better country from the government and remained in detention until December 5 when he was briefly released on bail.
On December 6, he was rearrested inside the Federal High Court, Abuja, by DSS operatives and remained in custody until Tuesday when Malami gave the latest release order.
In the weeks following his arrest and unlawful detention, a plethora of voices resonated all across the globe calling for his unconditional release and right to freedom of expression.
The United States Government through the US Department of State, leading lawmakers from the American society, European Union, Amnesty International, leading and renowned scholars including in Nigeria are among dozens of institutions, groups and individuals that condemned Sowore’s unjust arrest and incarceration by the Nigerian Government.
His trial resumes early next year in a case brought against him the Nigerian Government.
He is being accused of insulting President Buhari and planning to bring down his regime.