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Armed secret police storm high court to re-arrest Nigerian activist and journalist Omoyele Sowore

Posted December 6, 2019 10:10 a.m. EST
Updated December 6, 2019 10:23 a.m. EST

— Nigerian activist and journalist Omoyele Sowore was dramatically re-arrested Friday just hours after being freed on bail, in a case that has raised questions over free speech in the country.

Sowore, who is the publisher of US-based Sahara Reporters newspaper and ran for president in February's general elections, was detained after calling for a nationwide demonstration against President Buhari. He was charged with treason, money laundering and cyberstalking the President, but denies all charges.

Sowore is being held by Nigeria's intelligence agency, the Department of State Security (DSS), since his arrest on August 3 -- despite two court orders granting him bail.

The journalist was released briefly on Thursday after a federal court gave the intelligence agency a 24-hour ultimatum to release Sowore pending his trial.

But DSS officials, wielding guns, stormed a federal high court in the capital Abuja on Friday where the journalist is on trial for treason and "forcefully abducted" him, his wife Ope Sowore and other witnesses told CNN.

The judge and court staffers fled the courtroom in the chaos that ensued, Ope Sowore said.

"Armed DSS operatives strangled and forcefully harmed my husband in an attempt to rearrest him. The judge fled the courtroom for her own safety. And with brutal force, the DSS operatives were successful in taking my husband again," she told CNN.

CNN has reached out to DSS spokesman for comment and has yet to receive a response

CNN earlier spoke to Sowore's mother - Esther Sowore - on Friday where she became visibly shocked as she learned of her son's re-arrest.

She told CNN the toll her son's arrest had taken on her health. "I cannot eat, I cannot sleep. It is affecting my health. It has been four months now. I plea to Buhari again in Allah's name, I plead to him to release my son."

She also called on President Trump to intervene and help free her son during the CNN interview.

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