Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said his immediate reaction on Friday after learning that Omoyele Sowore has been charged with treason was to dismiss it as yet another “grotesque product of fake news”, that is now so pervasive in Nigeria.
He said when he confirmed the news, it became a “utterly depressing news”.
“So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction”, said Soyinka, who said he is at present out of Nigeria.
Sowore, publisher of Saharareporters and presidential candidate was arrested in August for planning to stage a revolutionary protest, tagged: ‘#RevolutionNow.’ The Department of State Service, DSS, later got the nod of a Federal High court in Abuja to detain him for 45 days.
On the eve of the expiration of the 45 days, the Federal Government Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony, cyberstalking Buhari and money laundering against Sowore, along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.
Soyinka, in a statement on Saturday night said the charge portrayed the Buhari administration as suffering from an ”unprecedented level of paranoia”.
“I do not believe that the Justice department(Justice Ministry) itself believes in these improbable charges, as formally publicised. So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, History still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn. Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore,” Soyinka stated.
The charge was signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The charge was filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.
The detention order elapses on September 21.
In the charge, the federal government accuses Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Government also accuses them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
It also accuses Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It also accuses Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of SWIFT wire.