The release of Omoyele Sowore, a former presidential aspirant and publisher of Sahara Reporters, and one other, on Christmas Eve came as a relief to me. A relief not because I care for the gentleman. Not at all. But a relief that reason had finally prevailed and the right thing, from the point of rule of law, had been done. To some other people, his release meant different things. But that is not the crux of the matter for me. What I want to address is how the government played into the hands of a schemer and his backers. A government that was hitherto perceived as always in the business of disobeying court others should not have allowed this issue to become the symbol of cementation of the ignoble toga on itself. As it is in tennis, it was an unforced error.
Just like somebody said, Sowore is not a heavyweight and did not have the spine to give a government any serious worry. Even when he was being held illegally by the SSS, which many of us rightly condemned, only a handful of people actually left the coziness of social media to go to the street to demand his release. Even those who did, who hoped to rile a critical mass of Nigerians to join them, failed woefully. They could not get a “mass”, talk less of a critical one. One of the particularly loud minority voices is a well-known activism-as-a-service provider and quasi pro-democracy champion, who needed other things to keep body and soul together after the fall of the PDP from grace. He was a key operative of that near-moribund organization in its heydays. One can’t forget his well-publicized instant message asking for a military coup if his party lost the presidency in 2015. He has repackaged himself as a democrat and goes on TV claiming some of the most incredible things, like government offering him large sums of money to stop talking. What a heap of balderdash. The oft gullible and amnesiac populace, existing mostly on social media, have swallowed the bullshit he has managed to excrete. I digress.
If Sowore is indeed popular with the people, he won’t have garnered a measly 33 thousand votes in an election where the top 2 contenders cumulatively amassed approximately 26 million votes. So when he went about his juvenile brag about how a constitutionally elected government and institutions of government would be no more after his shambolic revolution is complete, the government shouldn’t have gone beyond arresting him and charging him to court like it did. Every other thing the government did after that was painful to behold. It was tyronic. The process of law should have been allowed to take its course. The government should have trusted the process.
When the courts granted him bail, they did not mean he was not guilty of the offenses he has been accused of. They did not ask him to go and sin no more. They simply interpreted the law that allowed an accused to be bailed so long as his alleged crimes have not been labeled as unbailable in the statute books. The stringent bail conditions he was given, which included limiting his movement to Abuja, was enough to show the courts were attending to the matter in good faith. All the government needed to have done was release him from detention and place him under surveillance. Instead, the authorities played into his hands. Even when supporters of the government began to question why he was still been detained, the authorities refused to pay heed. Instead they continued to help Sowore, a man who has been alleged by many to be a masterful blackmailer using his Sahara Reporters platform to force his victims to comply, to build a false profile of being a victim of conscience. What wonky conscience?
The invasion of the Federal High Court Abuja was the height of the madness. The State Security Service (SSS), representing the government, lost its mind. I still do not understand why the SSS Director General is still in office. Even as a way of saving face, he should have been summarily fired. The SSS had no business re-arresting Sowore, whose case had been allowed to fester and go from a molehill to a mountain, inside the court premises. No matter what the SSS felt they had on him, it had no business inside that court premises. The accused was not going to sleep in the court after his case got adjourned, he still had to get on the road and travel to wherever he was going to lay his head for the day. They could have arrested him on the way. These things don’t require one to be an expert in criminology to figure out. It is, to me, simple common sense.
The winner in all of this is Omoyele Sowore. I give it to him. His plan to egg the government into diving headlong into squashing his rascality with a mallet, instead of a swatter worked like magic. Now some naive Nigerians see him as a freedom fighter, as some guy who has what it takes to take them to the Promised Land. I say – fa-fa-fa, foul! But let us wait and see what he manages to build out of this. As for his call for a revolution, that is dead on arrival. Anybody who understands the complexity of Nigeria adequately would know he was just being a comedian.
Henry Okelue is an IT Consultant in Abuja – article originally published on Opera. With permission from the writer NewsWireNGR is allowed to republish.