FORMER presidential candidate and Sahara Reporters published Omoyele Sowore has expressed fears that the Nigerian government is trying to kill him over his role in supporting the recent #EndSARS protests.
Following a month-long nationwide protest against the brutality of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (Sars) police unit, the Nigerian government came under intense criticism. After being forced to scrap Sars, the government decided to end the protests forcefully, sending soldiers to shoot innocent protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, leading to international condemnation and sparking nationwide riots.
Reeling from the bloody nose it got during the protests, the federal government has since ordered a clampdown on protesters and announced plans to restrict the use of social media across Nigeria. Last week Monday, a meeting of the Northern Nigerian Governors Forum attended by traditional rulers, federal government officials and the senate president, condemned what it described as the subversive actions of the #EndSARS protest.
Clamping down as promised, lawyer, Modupe Odele, who had through her Twitter handle mobilised her 219,000 followers during the protests, was denied the right to leave Nigeria at the Lagos airport. Stepping up the attack on the organisers of the protest, the federal government has begun freezing their bank accounts, using the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to obtain court orders enabling it to do so.
Now, the government has turned its attention to Mr Sowore who was an active and visible supporter of the protests. In August last year, Sowore was arrested by operatives of the State Security Service in Lagos just ahead of the #RevolutionNow protests which he organised, just months after losing in the 2019 presidential election.
He was later released in December on bail and his movement is currently confined to the Federal Capital Territory, based on his bail conditions. In a series of tweets yesterday, Mr Sowore accused the chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari and some other high-profile government officials of either masterminding or bankrolling the plot to either arrest or kill him.
Mr Sowore said: “Information reaching me now is that a signal from Directorate of Military Intelligence has put a bounty on my head, that I must be arrested or murdered as they claim I’d resist arrest in the next 24hrs. This is from the defence headquarters here in Abuja, however, be it known that this can’t affect the struggle for freedom.
“The plot against me has been on for weeks now and I’ve been aware until the signal sent to security agencies leaked tonight. There is a businessman linked with the Buhari regime who has threatened me for weeks unending since #EndSARS started.”
Among other things, Mr Sowore alleged that the attorney-general Abubakar Malami secured an order against him and his newspaper before Justice Muhammed of the Federal Capital Territory High Court distanced himself from the plot. He also accused the Nigeria Police Force of stealing his vehicles at the National Assembly where he had led a protest.