A presidency official on Sunday said President Muhammadu Buhari cannot intervene over the detention of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, by the State Security Services (SSS, also called DSS) because “it is too early for the president’s intervention.”
The Special Adviser to Mr Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said this while commenting on the continued detention of the former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) despite a court order.
Mr Adesina disclosed that despite the court order mandating the release of the activist, “it is too early for Mr Buhari to weigh in”.
He disclosed this while speaking on Sunday Politics on Channels Television.
Responding to a question on why Mr Sowore is yet to be released, he said: “It is an issue that is unraveling and I think it is still in the realm of security and judiciary. The DSS has a spokesman in Peter Afunanya. If you ask him this question, I’m sure he will be able to respond.
“As we are now, I think it is premature for the presidency to weigh into this matter but when the presidency speaks, it should be the final position on this.
“The president had been away. He came into the country yesterday. I have not been briefed. If he says this is our position on this matter, then I can speak on it.”
“Because I have not been briefed, I won’t be able to say much but I am sure as a media house if you try to speak with the spokesman of the DSS, he may oblige,” he said.
A Federal High Court judge, Taiwo Taiwo, on September 24 ordered the immediate release of Mr Sowore after the prosecution informed the court of its completion of investigations into the allegations against the activist.
The judge said Mr Sowore’s lead counsel, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, would be responsible for ensuring he appears in court for trial.
Six days after that court order and five days after Mr Sowore met the bail conditions, the SSS has refused to obey the order.
Mr Sowore was arrested on August 3 by the SSS for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag, #RevolutionNow.
The protest took place on August 5, amidst heavy clampdown of protesters and journalists by security agents.
The SSS accused Mr Sowore of plotting to cause chaos and overthrow President Buhari.
The agency obtained an order for his initial detention from the same Justice Taiwo for 45 days which elapsed on September 21.
On September 20, the Nigerian government filed a seven-count charge against Mr Sowore and a co-accused, Olawale Bakare.
PREMIUM TIMES analysis published on Sunday shows that the SSS has become notorious for disobeying court orders.
In the past, just like Mr Sowore’s instance, the secret police did not obey the court orders that asked it to release Sambo Dasuki and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, on September 23, said the judiciary under his watch will not tolerate disobedience of court orders.
He described disobedience to court orders as creating “anarchy.”
The SSS is headed by a Director-General, who is appointed by the president and reports directly to him.
Mr Buhari has never condemned the SSS for disobeying the court orders.