The Nigeria police on Monday again invited the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, to a meeting on Thursday with the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigations Department(SCID) in Lagos.
The invitation, which came in the form of a text message, did not disclose the purpose of the meeting. It merely invited Mr. Sowore and his colleagues to meet with the police authorities for an interview at 10a.m at the SCID headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos.
Mr. Sowore was on January 9 physically assaulted in Lagos by one Lekan Fatodu over a report by SaharaReporters detailing how Mr. Fatodu was allegedly used as a front by former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode to corner public funds through the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
When Mr. Sowore was brought before Fatai Owoseni, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, the police claimed a petition alleging criminal libel had been submitted by Mr. Fatodu against Mr. Sowore.
The following day when Mr. Sowore arrived at the SCID, the police were more interested in “mediation”, asking Mr. Sowore to meet Mr. Fatodu to resolve their differences.
Mr. Sowore refused, saying the police had been dishonest in the handling of the case.
His attorney, Femi Falana, on January 12 issued a statement saying the allegations of threat to life, criminal libel and extortion stated in Mr. Fatodu’s petition were false.
A few days after Mr. Sowore’s release, a strange dimension to the matter arose when a lawyer, Ugochukwu Osuagwu, issued a statement claiming that Mr. Sowore had been barred from leaving Nigeria over Mr. Fatodu’s petition.
Mr. Osuagwu is the same lawyer who, in January, addressed a petition to the police on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Yusuf Buratai, which led to the arrest of two Premium Times journalists a few days after Mr. Sowore was attacked and arrested in Lagos.
The continued police harassment of Mr. Sowore and other journalists has attracted condemnation by press freedom bodies across the globe.
Mr. Sowore told our reporters he plans to honour the invitation of the police on Thursday, an event which coincides with his birthday.