Human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore has officially declared to run for President in 2023.
Sowore is expected to contest on the platform of the African Action Congress (AAC). He was the party’s candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
“SOWORE FOR President,” the activist posted on Facebook on Tuesday. Sowore had last week said he would make his 2023 presidential declaration in March.
Mr Omoyele Sowore, while making the declaration in Abuja on Tuesday, said that he would run a socialist government focusing on workers’ welfare, free education, job creation, and pension reforms.
He also disclosed that one of his plans would be to create a new Constitution for the country and release detained leaders of the various movements agitating for self-determination, particularly Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (Indigenous People of Biafra) and Sunday Igboho (Yoruba Nation Group) if he clinches the top job.
Sowore said, “Nigerian workers, a living wage is coming your way. What I am saying to you is that an N100,000 monthly minimum wage is too small (for Nigerian workers today). Nigerian students, help is coming your way because we will give you free and qualitative education with bursary, grants, and scholarships. To the unemployed young people of Nigeria, I can only promise you one thing – jobs. I am also going to reform the pension system.
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“For those who are pushing the struggle for self-determination, we will accord you the opportunity you are seeking by creating a new Constitution for Nigeria, which must necessarily contain the right to self-determination and the right to a referendum if you are tired of Nigeria.
“As soon as I am sworn-in on June 12, 2023, I will release all political detainees, particularly (Nnamdi) Kanu and Sunday Igboho. People who are asking for self-determination should not go to prison. Those in the Diaspora must also be given the right to vote during the election.”
He argued that what Nigeria needed was a new crop of leaders to turn the fortunes of the country around for the better.
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Sowore, who is also the publisher of Sahara Reporters, expressed pessimism that Nigeria may not win the war against terrorism without improving the welfare and working conditions of the troops.
Meanwhile, Omoyele Sowore, has filed a rights enforcement suit against the police and a former House of Representatives member, Ned Nwoko.
In the suit he filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, Mr Sowore, seeks N200 million damages and public public apology from the defendants for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the police.
Specifically, the former presidential candidate, sued the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, and Mr Nwoko as the first to the fourth defendants, respectively.
He described Mr Nwoko as “acclaimed billionaire” in the suit marked FHC/CS/ABJ/239/2022.
‘How I was arrested’
Mr Sowore claimed in the suit that the police, allegedly instigated by Mr Nwoko, arrested him as he stepped out of the Court of Appeal premises in Abuja where he had visited to monitor a case on February 24, 2022.
“That a horde of police officers of the 1st respondent, activated and instigated by the 4th respondent (Mr Nwoko), laid siege at the entrance of the Court of Appeal Abuja on February 24, 2022 while I was attending a court session, and on stepping out of the court, around 4pm of the day, I was arrested by these policemen on the order of the 3rd respondent and on the instigation of the 4th respondent,” Mr Sowore stated in an affidavit he filed in support of his suit.
He said he was eventually taken to a police facility commonly called ‘Abattoir’ in Abuja where he said he was detained up till 9 p.m. on the day of the arrest “without justification whatsoever.”
Mr Sowore, who, on Tuesday, declared his ambition to again run for the presidential election in 2023, denied any wrongdoing.
“I did not at anytime breach any known law or commit any crime to justify my arrest and eventual detention by officers of the 1st respondent,” he insisted.
But he recalled that Mr Nwoko, had through his lawyers, written to Sahara Reporters Media Foundation, demanding the retraction of the publications they alleged were libelous against him.
He said although he is the founder of Sahara Reporters, “a legal entity distinct from me and having its headquarters in New York, USA, while I am now resident in Nigeria”, “I do not in any way determine the stories that are published on the Sahara Reporters platform.”
As part of his prayers, Mr Sowore, though his lawyer, Tope Temokun, urged the court to declare among others, that his arrest and detention on February 24, 2022, by the police over a Sahara Reporters publication amount to a breach of his personal liberty and freedom of movement.
These rights, his lawyer argued, are guaranteed under sections 35(1) of the Nigerian constitution and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human an Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
He also urged the court to order the four defendants to publish a public apology to him in two reputable national dailies for violating his rights.
He also sought an order compelling the defendants to pay him N200 million “as general and exemplary damages” for the violation of his rights.
The defendants have yet to respond to the suit.
Mr Sowore had said he was arrested by the police at the Court of Appeal where he had gone to witness a case concerning his party, the African Action Congress (AAC).
His lawyer, in a statement, said he was immediately transferred to the SWAT headquarters at Abattoir, Abuja, where he was detained for five hours.
Earlier in August 2019, the State Security Service (SSS) arrested Mr Sowore in Lagos over his planned #RevolutionNow protest against the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The SSS, which defied series of court orders to keep the activist in custody, only released him in December 2019 following mounting pressure from within and outside Nigeria.
The Buhari administration charged him along another #RevolutionNow protester, Olawale Bakare, with treasonable felony.
But Mr Sowore continues to participate in protests against the government in Abuja where the court restricted his movement to as part of the bail conditions granted him.
The police have arrested and detained him on different occasions since then.
He recently raised the alarm over the deactivation of his National Identification Number (NIN) by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
He announced the reactivation of his NIN after a seven-day ultimatum he issued to the agency lapsed.
But the NIMC has denied ever deactivating Mr Sowore’s NIN.