A presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, says the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement, has nothing to do with him being a journalist.
Shehu was reacting to the depiction of Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, by some international news media as a journalist detained by the government.
Sowore was released on Tuesday following a directive from Abubakar Malami, minister of justice, after the initial refusal of the government to honour two court orders granting him bail.
Shehu said in a statement that the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested the activist because he called for a revolution to ”overthrow” President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
He said the Buhari-led government has not clamped down on any news medium or arrested a journalist since assuming office in 2015, but that no government would tolerate Sowore’s call for “destabilisation in the country”.
“The Presidency wishes to clarify the release on bail, of the Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress in the February 2019 elections, Omoyele Sowore. Some international news outlets have mistakenly been describing his release as that of a journalist,” the statement read.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Buhari administration has never, since coming into office in 2015, detained a journalist, seized copies of newspapers or shut down a medium of information.
“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria. He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.
“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.
“No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.
“The government believes strictly in observing the rule of law but must safeguard public security and will not allow trouble makers to incite the public and cause a breakdown of law and order.”