Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after Omoyele Sowore, a prominent Nigerian-American journalist and activist, was arbitrarily re-arrested yesterday by Nigerian authorities.
Sowore, a New Jersey resident, was first arrested in August and despite two court orders for his release, Nigerian security services refused to release him until yesterday. Hours later he was re-arrested. Menendez has been involved in securing Sowore’s release after his family in New Jersey approached his office about it. Amnesty International declared Sowore a prisoner of conscious on November 20th.
“I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression.
“In a concerted effort to secure his release on behalf of the Sowore family living in New Jersey, my office has been working closely with the State Department as Mr. Sowore’s case languished following his arbitrary arrest back in August. While we continue to seek immediate answers about Mr. Sowore’s treatment and conditions in jail, I will be further engaging directly with U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard in Abuja to raise this case at the highest levels of the Nigerian government so the Buhari Administration gets the message that we are committed to defending Mr. Sowore’s rights and securing his release.
“This blatant miscarriage of justice is symptomatic of closing political and media space in Nigeria.”
Last month, Senator Menendez and Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) sent a private letter to the Head of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to press the Nigerians to free people working in the civil and media space. The letter specifically cited Omoyele Sowore’s case.