OP-ED Opinions 

Comparing Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow To Boko Haram Insurgency, A Needless Escalation By Kayode Ogundamisi

I read the statement by the Presidency on the Sowore/Bakare treason trial. This statement is a needless escalation, particularly the comparison with Boko Haram insurgency. If the allegations are completely true, why is the Department of State Services disobeying court orders? One would think the state will be eager to bring its evidence to the open.

If the Presidency and the DSS are confident of Omoyele Sowore’s ability and capabilities to “violently overthrow the government”, why can’t the state simply let the judicial process proceed without interference as seen in the agency’s disobedience of two court orders and the recent show of force by carrying out an arrest when you could have easily invited Sowore or picked him up at his residence in Abuja with a court warrant?

The President Muhammadu Buhari government is making a grave mistake, attracting negative local and international commentaries, a distraction the government does not need at any time, particularly now. Now is the time for the government to stop listening to the voices of chaos and start listening to the voice of reason.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), should review the Sowore and Bakare’s case file and do the needful (drop the treason charges) and if the state is confident of its case, then let the case proceed in a transparent and open manner.

When Sowore committed what was an obvious infraction such as defacing a public property in Lagos, an offence that could get an easy conviction in a Lagos environmental court, the government looked the other way, a sign the state isn’t interested in enforcing our laws but to bring up charges with stringent conditions that can drag on for long and keep alleged offenders in jail awaiting trial for a long period. The treason charges the state is now relying on is unlikely to stand in an open trial, thus the request for a secret trial and anonymous witnesses.

Sowore’s followership on social media run into millions of people who find it easy to ‘comment’ ‘like’ ‘follow’ his broadcasts, but no evidence the millions have translated into a mass movement.

Nigerians are disappointed, angry and have always wanted a change but not reckless enough to follow an unplanned idealistic ‘revolution’ with no road map, even the DSS should have known this. The danger to Nigeria isn’t the Sowore and his group, the government should review how the intelligent agencies arrive at largely fictitious ‘security reports’.

Now it is the Nigerian Government and the DSS that are promoting #RevolutionNow by aiming to kill a fly with a nuclear bomb with attendant negative impact. It is the government now ascribing some imaginary powers to Omoyele Sowore and his armless group, a sign of insecurity on the part of the government.

Each infraction by the government will attract more sympathy. It is the case of David against Goliath. Give this group a designated space to protest and a platform to vent and you will see not all Nigerians agree with some of the solutions being proffered by the group.

Omoyele Sowore and his group are being lionised by the state. Nigeria’s elite security is now acting like a gangster enforcer. The government should review its so-called counter-insurgency strategy and stop applying failed tactics.

The irony is that the government already had half of what it wants legally by securing one of the harshest bail conditions against a suspect. The judge had in a ruling on October 4 granted Sowore bail in the sum of N100m and two sureties in the same amount and barred him from travelling out of Abuja.  Why rearrest Sowore when he’s already restricted to Abuja? Is the DSS saying it does not have the capability to mount surveillance on one man in Abuja?

For the record, I am no supporter of #RevolutionNow, I have seen how recklessness can destabilise fragile states but evidence of alleged infractions is better presented in court without the state acting as if it is insecure and desperate to keep a voice in detention by all means, necessary, including bending the law.

Now is the time for the government to stop the disobedience of court orders, no one is above the law including activists and people in government but if you must prosecute Sowore and others then let it be open, free and transparent. Otherwise, thus far the state has made a mess of the case, this is looking more like persecution than prosecution. If the government has a thinking cap on, it will #FreeSoworeNow or at the least let the case in court continue without infractions.

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