Nigerian court orders security agency to release activist within 24 hours

By Camillus Eboh

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A Nigerian court on Thursday ordered the state security agency to release within 24 hours a Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate who has remained in detention despite having been granted bail.

Omoyele Sowore, who ran for president as a minor candidate in the February election in which former military ruler President Muhammadu Buhari secured a second term in office, was arrested in August for calling for a revolution.

His continued detention has led to criticism of Buhari's administration amid claims that human rights have been flouted in this case and those of other high profile figures such as the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Shi'ite Muslim group who has been held since 2015 without a trial.

In September, Sowore pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president. He was granted bail on Oct. 4 but has not been released by the Department for State Security which said the bail conditions had not been met.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Thursday ordered the state security agency to release Sowore within 24 hours and pay costs of 100,000 naira ($280).

The case was adjourned until Friday.

Last month Sowore's supporters accused the security agency of opening fire on unarmed people staging a peaceful protest calling for his release. The security agency denied the allegations.

In September, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings condemned what she said was the excessive use of lethal force in policing IMN processions. The group has said more than 20 of its supporters have been killed this year by police officers, which the Nigeria Police Force has denied. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Hugh Lawson)