Ex-US envoy, Campbell berates Buhari over Sowore’s detention

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A former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has condemned the arrest of Omoyele Sowore.

The Sahara Reporters Publisher and four others were remanded at the Kuje Correctional Centre by Abuja Magistrates’ Court in Abuja.

Campbell, while reacting to Sowore’s arrest, said the Nigerian authorities have portrayed the country in a bad light to the incoming American president.

“The arrest of Nigerian journalist and human rights activist Omoyele Sowore is a poor representation of Nigeria to the incoming Biden administration”, Campbell tweeted.

In late 2019, Campbell likened the Buhari administration to military rule.

This followed Sowore’s re-arrest at the Federal High Court in Abuja on December 6 of the same year, and The Punch newspaper’s declaration that the Nigeria leader was a Major General not a President.

In an article titled: “Buhari’s Dictatorial Past and the Rule of Law Today in Nigeria”, Campbell stated that the Department of State Service’s (DSS) action had damaged the country’s international reputation.

He noted that in the immediate aftermath of the DSS’s “invasion of an Abuja court room and its re-arrest of Sowore, The Punch announced that it will prefix President Muhammadu Buhari’s name with his military rank, Major General, and will refer to his administration as a “regime,” until “they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”

According to the senior fellow for Africa at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, “The Punch draws parallels between Buhari’s government and his “ham-fisted military junta in 1984/85,” when he was military chief of state. For Punch the “regime’s actions and assaults on the courts, disobedience of court orders and arbitrary detention of citizens reflect the true character of the martial culture.”

He added that the newspaper also attacked the military and the police for failing to understand that peaceful agitation and the right to associate are fundamental rights.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has written to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in protest of the detention.

SERAP urged the UN group to pressure President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to release the detainees.

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