I have been following the Omoleye Sowore case very closely.
In a short space of time, I have gone from utter disbelief, to righteous indignation, to hopelessness and finally to a place of extreme uneasiness that prompts me to ask myself:
“When is enough ever going to be enough??”
I have heard that if you push Nigerians to a wall, they will find a way to sink into the wall rather than push back.
This seems to be the current situation as I see it.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing- Edmund Burke.
This case of Omoleye Sowore versus the Nigerian government gives me a serious sense of deja vu
It’s like i already saw this played out before. I recognize the players, and I recognize the plot.
They say History repeats itself, when we forgot what happened the last time.
If we do not want a repetition of negative history, we must try to remember what happened the last time and proactively connect the dots in advance.
Over two months after Sowore’s arrest, he is still being held under charges of treason, money laundering and harassment of the President through cyber stalking.
He was initially granted bail on the 24th of September, but even after perfecting the conditions of his bail set by the Abuja high court, he was still not released.
On the 4th of October 2019, there was another court sitting and the outcome was that Sowore was granted bail, this time with a new set of impossible conditions.
Bail was granted by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja with the following conditions:
- 100 million Naira
- Two sureties with an additional deposit of 100 Million Naira each (one of the sureties must own landed property)
- A deposit of 50 Million Naira
- Sowore is prohibited from traveling outside Abuja even though he has never lived in Abuja
- Sowore is prohibited from addressing the press, or speaking in any public capacity until the completion of the trial
It goes without saying that these are impossible amounts to raise, especially if one has not been steadily looting public funds
Furthermore, these conditions violate Sowore’s fundamental human rights to speech as he is being forced into silence to suppress the truth of what he has to say.
The truth that has the potential to set Nigerians free both mentally and otherwise.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this strange time, Nigerians must not be lulled into a false sense of security. This will only betray our communal struggle for a better Nigeria.
Who knows when next we will have another individual stand up to fight for change in this capacity and with this level of sustained commitment?
If we do not support people who have shown evidence that they have a heart for us and a desire to lead genuine change, then we will always attract the type of leaders we have now.
Chinua Achebe once said if we do lend our support to good leaders “”then” “Good leaders like good money, will be driven out by bad”
How prophetic that statement has turned out to be in the current Nigerian clime.
Back to my comment about History repeating itself I think know that I have seen this script play out before.
Does the name Ken Saro Wiwa ring a bell?
When I consider the unfolding of events with the Sowore case, I think about Ken Saro-Wiwa.
I see so many patterns and repetitions and i wonder does anyone else see this?
Or is it just me?
Ken Saro-Wiwa was a Nigerian writer, television producer, environmental and social activist.
He was an outspoken critic of the Nigerian government and was involved in protests and nonviolent campaigns against the government on environmental and Human rights concerns.
At the peak of his political career, he was arrested, accused of incitement and tried by a special military tribunal for allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of some Ogoni chiefs. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, by a specially convened tribunal.
He was hanged in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. It was later revealed that the proceedings and testimonies were less than honest and were aimed at implicating Ken Saro-Wiwa. More information here.
Like Sowore, Saro Wiwa had a heart for the emancipation and wellbeing of his people. He was very vocal about it even in the face of government displeasure. He also had a long history of activism and was very much involved in journalism and the print media.
“If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again.” Terry Venables
Here are some patterns and parallels as I see them. Please let me know if they resonate with you.
- Ken Saro Wiwa led nonviolent campaign against social injustice and was arrested for inciting a peaceful protest. Sowore was arrested in the wake of the #RevolutionNow peaceful protest.
- Both men had a hunger for learning and attained high educational qualifications. Ken Saro-Wiwa ended up becoming a teaching assistant at the University of Lagos while Omoleye Sowore obtained a Master degree in Public Administration from Columbia University.
- Both were natural leaders and became leaders of various organizations: Saro Wiwa was the chairperson for Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) General Assembly. Sowore was the President of the University of Lagos Student Union Government.
- Both attempted to run for public office but neither was successful. Sowore ran for president in the 2019 Nigerian General Elections, but lost to the incumbent president. Saro-Wiwa ran to represent Ogoni in the Constituent Assembly, in the year 1977, but was unsuccessful.
- Both human rights activists with a heart for the people, they were also very vocal despite threats to their lives and safety. Due to safety concerns, both had to leave their families abroad but still continued to fight for the rights and benefits of Nigerians living on Nigerian soil.
- Both arrested during the regime of sitting presidents who had military backgrounds in the Nigerian army. For Ken Saro Wiwa it was General Sani Abacha and currently we have Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari.
- Both were subjected to several unwarranted arrests, detention, torture and mistreatment at the hands of authorities at different times, for their involvement in activism.
To be honest, the only major difference I can see in both situations is that Ken Saro-Wiwa eventually ended up being executed after being convicted in highly manipulated proceedings.
Sowore is still in custody with stringent bail conditions.
A year after Saro-Wiwa’s execution, he received the Right Livelihood Award for his “exemplary courage in striving non-violently for civil, economic and environmental rights”
It was a little too late.
As Nigerians, we must look to history in order to interpret current events and forecast the possible future.
Vigilance is required to see what is unfolding and do all we can to ensure that negative historical events are not repeated.
The constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom to protest for Sowore as well as every Nigerian citizen must be upheld and respected.
I end with a quote by Sydney J. Harris:
“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.”
What can we do as a Nigerians to make a difference in the now?
A GoFund me account has been opened by the take it back movement to #FreeSowore. You can find it here. If you would like to contribute, I would encourage you to do so.
We cannot all be on the forefront of the fight for change. But unity means playing our part no matter how small.
If you value good leadership, freedom of speech and justice for ALL Nigerians at home and abroad, let’s pull our resources together and throw our support behind Omoleye Sowore.
Link to the GoFundMe account is here