A Nigerian court on Tuesday ordered the release from custody of a former presidential candidate facing treason charges after calling for a “revolution” in the country.
Omoyele Sowore, a fierce critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been held since August by the Department of State Services (DSS) secret police after calling for protests under the online banner “#RevolutionNow”.
Judge Taiwo Taiwo ruled the activist, who runs news website, Sahara Reporters, should be released immediately after the authorities failed to make the case for his continued detention.
But Sowore, 48, was ordered to hand over his passport and be ready to stand trial on charges filed on Friday by state prosecutors including “treasonable felony”, cybercrime and money laundering.
The authorities’ handling of this case has sparked criticism from rights activists and prominent Nigerians, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.
Police have cracked down on small protests calling for Sowore’s release, firing tear gas and making arrests.
Sowore stirred interest with his anti-establishment message at the February poll, despite finishing a distant tenth as former military ruler Buhari claimed a second term.
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