TrialWatch Report Released on the Trial of Journalist Omoyele Sowore in Nigeria
A TrialWatch report released today finds that Nigerian journalist and opposition figure Omoyele Sowore has been the victim of prosecutorial misconduct following his calls for peaceful protests. First, the authorities defied the courts after they ordered the defendant released on bail. Moreover, they offered shifting justifications for pursuing the case. The report also finds that the charges appear to have been brought against Mr. Sowore because the protests he sought to organize were “at odds with the Buhari government’s agenda.”
A resident of New Jersey, USA, Mr. Sowore is required to stay in Abuja, Nigeria as a condition of his bail. But his trial has been unfairly delayed time and again. While it finally resumed in December, it was swiftly adjourned again to late January.
Stephen Townley, Senior Program Manager of the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative, said: “At a minimum, Nigeria should let Mr. Sowore return to his home in the United States over the holidays, pending the resumption of his trial.”
Mr. Sowore currently faces charges of treason and conspiracy to commit treason, after having ostensibly been arrested on terrorism grounds. The authorities have already dropped five other charges, including cyberstalking and money laundering. The report, by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, which has been monitoring the proceedings as part of TrialWatch, further finds that the authorities have repeatedly defied court orders to provide the defense with key materials, such as information about witness testimony. The report is being released before the conclusion of the trial due to the risk that the proceedings will continue to be prolonged indefinitely.