Nigerian activist Sowore re-arrested hours after he was freed: lawyer

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore appears at the Federal High Court in Abuja

ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate whose detention has prompted protests by rights groups was re-arrested on Friday at a court hearing hours after he was freed on bail, his lawyer told Reuters.

Omoyele Sowore, who ran against President Muhammadu Buhari in February's election, was first arrested in August and has pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.

He was released on bail on Thursday ahead of a court hearing on Friday. However, his lawyer, Femi Falana, said the activist was re-arrested by state security officials on Friday after the hearing, screaming and shouting as he was dragged away.

Falana said the state security had filed new charges against Sowore, without elaborating.

Sowore's continued detention despite being granted bail has led to criticism of Buhari's administration and allegations that human rights have been flouted in this case and those of other high-profile figures.

Prior to Thursday's release, the Department for State Security said Sowore's bail conditions had not been met and detained him for several weeks. But a court in Abuja said on Thursday he must be released within 24 hours.

"Having complied with the order of court ... what is therefore required is for the state security service to allow our clients enjoy their limited freedom," Falana told Reuters after Sowore was re-arrested on Friday.

Sahara Reporters, the online Nigerian news organization Sowore founded, said he has been taken to the state security headquarters after his latest arrest.


(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Abraham Achirga and Afolabi Sotunde in Abuja; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by David Goodman and Alison Williams)