Born on the 16th of February 1971, Omoyele Sowore is a Nigerian human rights activist, pro-democracy campaigner, and founder of an online news agency Sahara Reporters. Sowore , who is from Ese-Odo, Ondo State in South West Nigeria, was also raised in a polygamous home with sixteen children.
He studied Geography and Planning at the University of Lagos from 1989 to 1995 with his academic program extended by two extra years after being expelled twice for political reasons and student activism. He was the President of the University of Lagos Student Union Government between 1992 and 1994 where he was involved in anti-cultism and anti-corruption advocacy. Sowore holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University.
Activism and Arrest
In 1989, he took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of $120 million to be used for a Nigerian oil pipeline. Included among the conditions of the IMF loan, was a reduction in the number of universities in Nigeria from 28 to 5.
Sowore led 5,100 students in protest against the Nigerian government in 1992. The protest resulted in police opening fire and killing seven protesters. Sowore was arrested and tortured. Omoyele was also involved in the demand for democratic government taking over military rule on June 12, 1993. This resulted in several arrests, detentions and life-threatening treatment by government officials.
On January 12, 2017, the Lagos State Police Command arrested Sowore over a petition by a magazine publisher, Lekan Fatodu. Later in the evening of the same day, Sowore confirmed the incident in a video he posted on his Facebook wall where he accused the police of supporting Fatodu while he assaulted him at the Area F Police Command.
Sowore was arrested by the DSS on 3 August 2019 ahead of a planned nationwide #RevolutionNow protest. On 24 September 2019, Sowore was granted bail by the Federal High Court Abuja, on the condition that he surrender his international passport within forty-eight hours. The DSS has refused to release Sowore claiming ignorance of the court order. The DSS’ refusal to release Sowore led to protests at the UN Plaza in New York led by Sowore’s wife and has sparked a global decry on Nigeria’s failed democracy.
On 29 September 2019, Sowore made his first appearance in the media since his detention. He described his poor treatment, being locked up in a dark room without the sunlight. He also mentioned that “Boko Haram commanders who are engaged in high level terrorism have access to telephone, TV and even cable in their cells” while he is being denied such access. The court again set Sowore free on 5 December 2019, confirming that he had settled his bail terms. However, there was a wind of change in the next change in court when DSS operatives evaded the premises to re-arrest him. He was finally released on 24 December 2019.
On December 8, 2021, The Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to pay Omoyele Sowore, 2 million Naira over the unlawful seizure of his mobile phone in 2019 at the point of his arrest.
In March 2022 it was reported that Omoyele Sowore, had sued the Nigeria Police Force and three others at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over violation of his fundamental human right.
On 25 February 2018, Sowore announced his intention to run for president in the 2019 Nigerian general election. In August 2018, he founded a political party, the African Action Congress (AAC), for which he will run in 2019. On 6 October 2018, following successful primary elections at the AAC’s national convention, Omoyele Sowore emerged unchallenged as the Presidential Candidate for the party. Sowore came fifth with 33,953 votes in the elections
On 1 March 2022, Sowore announced his intention to run for president in the 2023 Nigerian general election