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SERAP carpets Nigerian govt over charges against Sowore

By Dapo Olaosebikan

Anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, on Sunday asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to enter a nolle prosequi to terminate the charges filed against the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare, alias Mandate.

SERAP, in an open letter by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, described the charges, which centre on insulting President Muhammadu Buhari as a mockery of the Nigerian criminal justice system.

“Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated/brought by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice systems, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom,” SERAP said.

The group, however, urged Malami to activate his power of nolle prosequi under Section 174 of the constitution to terminate the charges against Sowore and Mandate “and several other similar trumped-up cases going on in several states.”

The open letter further read, “These cases are persecution and not prosecution. As a guardian of the public interest, you (Malami) have a role to end this travesty now, and to maintain the sanctity and integrity of Nigeria’s justice system.

“These cases set a dangerous precedent for the misuse and subversion of the justice system, which may lead to the politicisation of judiciary. This will be bad for everyone – ordinary citizens, journalists and even the politicians in power, as they may themselves become targets of these repressive and abusive tactics when they are out of power/in opposition.

“While the Nigerian government has the responsibility to prevent and prosecute criminal offences, it ought to do so lawfully, and in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law. Exercising your constitutional independence and discretion to withdraw these kinds of charges would meet the test of reasonableness, demands of justice, and as noted, serve the public interest.”

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