Omoyele Sowore (born 16 February 1971) is a Nigerian revolutionist, human rights activist, former presidential candidate, pro-democracy campaigner, and founder of online news agency Sahara Reporters from Ese-Odo, Ondo State in South-West Nigeria. He is of the Ijaw Apoi tribe and not the Ilaje tribe in Ese-Odo. On August 3, 2019, Sowore was arrested by Nigeria Department of Security Services (DSS) for treason allegation after calling for a protest tagged ‘RevolutionNow‘
Sowore was regarded as one of the people who was responsible for ousting former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after several protests in the United States while using his news agency platform, Sahara Reporters.
Early Life & Education
Omoyele Sowore is from Ese-Odo, Ondo State in South-West Nigeria. Contrary to popular belief, Sowore is of the Ijaw Apoi tribe and not the Ilaje tribe in Ese-Odo. Sowore was born in the Niger Delta region of the country where he was also raised in a polygamous home with sixteen children. At 12, he learnt how to ride a motorcycle so that he could fish at the lake for the entire family before going to school every morning. Sowore’s passion and desire in media was propelled during the military rule in Nigeria, more particularly during the 1993 June 12 elections when MKO Abiola was denied after winning the presidential election.
Sowore studied Geography and Planning at the University of Lagos from 1989 to 1995 with his academic program extended by two extra years after being expelled twice for political reasons and student activism. He was the President of the University of Lagos Student Union Government between 1992 and 1994 where he was involved in anti-cultism and anti-corruption advocacy.
Sowore holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University.
In 1989, Sowore took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of $120 million to be used for a Nigerian oil pipeline. Among the conditions of the IMF loan were to reduce the number of universities in the country from 28 to 5.
Sowore led 5,100 students in protest against the Nigerian government in 1992. The protest resulted in police opening fire and seven being killed. Sowore was arrested and tortured. Omoyele was also involved in the demand for democratic government taking over military rule on June 12, 1993. This resulted in several arrests, detentions and life-threatening treatment by government officials.
A renowned journalist Niyi Babade in his yet to be published memoir also acknowledge Sowore stride in the June 12 struggle, in his word “Unannounced they came out of an unmarked grey vehicle and saw the ugly scenes then opened fire on all of us. I spent some quality time in my resting place the gutter till I heard the song singing voices of the students of University of Lagos led by Yele Sowore (now Sahara Reporter) heading to Abiola’s house, I crawled out of my hiding and tried to get an exclusive shot when the hoodlums among the students attacked me and wanted to confiscate my camera but with the heroic effort of Sowore, I was spared and allowed to join them as one of the hoodlums and a journalist which then gave me unlimited access to exclusive footage of the day till we got to MKO Abiola’s house.”
Sowore’s 2019 Arrest
Sowore was on August 3, 2019, arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS) because of this planned protest. The Federal Government later admitted to his arrest, which was condemned by Wole Soyinka, Oby Ezekwesili and many other activists
On 24 September 2019 Sowore was granted bail by federal high court Abuja, on condition that his international passport be submitted within forty-eight hours. This condition was fulfilled However, the DSS refused to release him; claiming ignorance of the court order. The afore led to protests at the UN plaza in New York led by his wife, Opeyemi Sowore. And sparked global decry on Nigeria’s failed democracy.
On 29 September 2019, Sowore made his first appearance in the media since detention stating how poorly he is being treated, locked up in a dark room without the rays of sun. He also mentioned that Boko Haram officers who are in detention have access to TV, internet and telephone while he is being treated like a criminal.
Sahara Reporters Origin
Sowore started Sahara Reporters in a small room in Manhattan 2006 to fight against corrupt and wrong government practices. Sahara Reporters is supported by grants donated by the Ford Foundation and Omidyar Foundation. As part of its policy, the medium does not accept adverts and financial support from the Nigerian government.
Sowore’s Wife & Family
Omoyele Sowore has managed to keep his family affairs off social media and little or nothing can be said of them. It was not until September 2019 that Opeyemi Sowore, his wife was known to most after she led protests at the UN plaza in New York. Nothing is known about his children as Sowore as also kept them away from cyberspace, supposedly for security reason.
Omoyele Sowore Net Worth
Sowore estimated net worth is $10 million, according to the value of Sahara Reporters as estimated by indicators. Sahara Reporters’ estimated earnings per day, on average, is $3,000. Unlike most people accustomed to the lavish lifestyle, it is almost impossible for anyone to predict that Sowore is doing incredibly well for himself despite spending more time on activism and with the common people on the streets.