Journalism of Courage

Soyinka to DSS: Release Sowore now, stop the violence


resist demolition engines of state security agencies, tells CSOs



Outraged by the “intransigence’’ of the Department of State Services (DSS) to release Omoyele Sowore, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has asked civil society organizations to take up the gauntlet and defend the rule of law in the country just as he drums support for #Free-SoworeNow campaign.


Soyinka slammed what he called the ham-fisted response of the DSS to the rulings of the court which had granted Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare bails.


“The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat –these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life. Result?


“A steady entrenchment of the cult of impunity in the dealings of state with the citizenry — both individuals and organisations.


“The level of arrogance has crossed even the most permissive thresholds,” Soyinka said.


He said it was embarrassing that the Federal Government had refused to release the detained publisher of SaharaReporters even after fulfilling the stringent bail conditions.


The duo was arrested in Lagos and Osogbo over #RevolutionNow protest by the DSS and had remained in custody since early August in spite two Federal High Courts’ ruling ordering their release.


On the use of lethal weapons and pepper spray to disperse a peaceful sit-in of #Free Sowore protesters in Abuja yesterday, Soyinka asked: “Why use live bullets on them and why the desperation?


“The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resort to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets. Why the desperation?


“The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail!


“It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering. That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!’’


Describing the development as callous, inhuman and criminal, Soyinka added: “It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets?


“This is no longer comical. Perhaps it is necessary to remind this government of precedents in other lands where, even years after the event, those who trampled on established human rights that generate homicidal impunity are called to account for abuse of power and crimes against humanity.”


Among those who were wounded in yesterday’s attack is a Guardian reporter while the camera of AriseTV was reportedly seized in the melee as the demonstrators scamper to save points.

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