Ozekhome vs Sowore: Civil Society groups appeal for caution

…say human rights community needs unity, not division now

A coalition of civil society organisations (CCSO) has appealed to legal icon, Mike Ozekhome, and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Comrade Omoyele Sowore, to drop their ongoing squabble and embrace peace.

CCSO said that what was needed now within its community was unity not division, urging all parties to eschew animosity as the feud was avoidable.

The group, comprising of over 10 rights groups: Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights (CHSR), Know your Rights for Justice, Centre for Protection of Indigenous Peoples Rights (CPPR), Community Women Initiative (CWI), Frontliner Economy and Social Research Centre (FESRC), Campaign for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (CCHR), Favour’s Effect Republic (FER), and Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Government (CACOBAG) among others implored the parties to show maturity in handling the misunderstanding as “it is avoidable”.

It must be recalled that Sahara Reporters recently published a piece titled: “Why Ozekhome wants Magu dead”, written by one Israel Olayiwola. This did not go down well with Ozekhome who threatened to sue the online medium for libel.

Guarded by the fact that the embarrassing situation if not handled properly with great prudence will result in a deep crack in the ranks of civil society, the coalition appealed to Ozekhome to show greater maturity as a father and leader not to be perturbed, just as it advised Sowore to show respect to a fellow “pro-democracy activist and his senior in the rights struggle rather than insolence”.

In a press statement signed by leaders of the groups and read to the media, in Lagos, on Tuesday, July 28th, by comrade Alex Omotehinse (CHSR) and national president Centre for human and socio-economic rights (CHSR) the coalition group said the battle, if allowed to fester, will "bring a crack that will within a short period sow seeds of bad blood within the ranks of civil society groups and this will decimate the gains we have accumulated over the years of struggle"

The statement read in part “we are using this press briefing to earnestly appeal to our senior consistent comrade, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, not to be distracted by this write-up to blackmail him. It should be regarded as an error. He should not institute any action for defamation in court against Sahara Reporters rather he should see the publication as part of the challenges faced by a tested leader of his stature.

“This caution has become necessary for the purpose of saving the poor masses of this country that the politicians have united to oppress the more, but whom Ozekhome has continued to stand by.

“We are here to mediate between the two because both belong to us, we are here to call for caution, and we can recall that Ozekhome was also in the forefront calling for the immediate release of Sowore when the DSS put him in illegal detention, so there is no need for this blackmail, anger, misunderstanding, bad blood and bitterness”.

Renowned activists that were present at the briefing included: Comrade Segun Adeeko, Comrade Toyin Raheem, Comrade Olatunde Owoeye Wise, Comrade Mrs. Favour Uruada, Comrade Peter Oyewole, Comrade Funmi Jolade Ajayi, and Comrade Balugun Hameed among others.

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