The Senior Special Assistant to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, on Tuesday, advised the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, to desist from attacking the late Isma’ila Isa Funtua over his encounters with security agents.
Shehu, who was reacting to comments by Sowore on the deceased in Abuja, condemned how the activist attempted to twist facts on what transpired between him and officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) when he was in detention.
The presidential aide, who was part of the intervention team to negotiate freedom for the co-convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, said:
“Let’s get the facts straight on the meeting with Sowore in SSS detention.
“First, it is important to state that the meeting was not instructed by the government. Nobody sent anybody to go and ‘negotiate’ Sowore’s freedom as he put it.
“The late Malam Isma’ila, on his own, called me to ask that I broker a meeting with him and two others with the SSS, which they agreed to.
“It is important that I state that it was the force of Malam Isma’ila’s argument that made the meeting possible.
“Vanguard Newspapers publisher, Sam Amuka and ThisDay Publisher and President, Nigerian Press Organisation, Nduka Obaigbena, all agreed that Sowore was a ‘rascal,’ who had used his newspaper ‘to abuse all of us,’ but agreed, nonetheless to go and press for his release.
“As the late Isma’ila put it, although he (Sowore) got into his problems due to politics, not journalism, the fact of him being a publisher imposed a duty on the media leaders to seek ways of making him free.’’
Shehu added that the meeting ended well, and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, “he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.
“The fence-mending process apparently collapsed after the meeting of the trio with the lawyer in Lagos.
“I don’t know what Sowore wants to achieve by distorting the facts of what transpired, but my advice to him is that he should stop his attacks on a dead, well-meaning intercessor.
“Knowing the way the secret service works, it should surprise no one if they keep a recording of that meeting.
“Faced with this posturing and the unfair attacks on the dead, we certainly will be forced to ask for the release of tapes, in case they are available for the public to judge, the presidential added.
Sowore, currently on bail, is standing trial for treason, money laundering, and cyberstalking.