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By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore pleaded not guilty at a court in Abuja on Monday to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president.
State Security Service agents arrested Sowore in early August after he called for a revolution after a February election which he said was not credible. He ran for president in that election, in which former military ruler President Muhammadu Buhari secured a second term in office.
Buhari has faced criticism for his administration’s human rights record, particularly a deadly crackdown on members of a now-banned Shi’ite group that a United Nations special rapporteur said involved the excessive use of lethal force. The government has rejected criticisms of its human rights record.
Sowore, who also founded Nigerian online news organisation Sahara Reporters, faces seven charges including treason, money laundering and “cyberstalking” for allegedly sharing false information about Buhari that insulted him and incited hated against him.
A court last week denied a request by state security to keep Sowore in detention pending the charges, but did not release him as ordered.
Last week, another federal court in Abuja threatened the head of the State Security Service with prison for contempt of court for the failure to release him. Sowore remained in detention despite the threat.
The judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, adjourned the case until Oct. 4. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram Editing by Chizu Nomiyama Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)