It’s not illegal to call for Revolution, even Buhari did so, Sowore’s lawyer tells court

Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Instagram account of Sowore]
Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Instagram account of Sowore]

The counsel to the Publisher of Sahara Reporters has defended his client’s choice of the word “revolution” in the August 5 protest that held across the country.

Mr Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, said even the Supreme Court does not regard a revolution as a lawful offence.

Mr Falana cited previous authorities by the Supreme Court to support his argument.

“Even a coup that sustains the statues quo has been said not to be a revolution by the Supreme Court.”

Mr Falana said the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President, Muhammadu Buhari staged protests after they lost elections in 2003. He added that Mr Buhari also called for a protest like that of Egypt.

“Buhari called for a revolution in 2011 like that of Egypt which was evidently violent.

“Only in 1948 was someone charged for staging a protest. And the charge was sedition,” he said.

Mr Falana cited various prominent cases of people who were charged with treasonable felony, including APC leader Ahmed Tinubu, who were granted bail on self recognizance.

Mr Falana also reiterated the argument that the late Moshood Abiola was also granted bail after he was charged with the same treasonable felony.

Mr Falana asked the court to grant Mr Sowore bail on self recognizance.

He said there were many politicians facing trails on alleged fraud to the tune of billions of naira who were currently on bail.

Mr Falana also said the evidence against Mr Sowore, according to the prosecution, does not indicate any known offence besides the protest.

He said various courts had decided on the rights of Nigerians to peaceful protest and that the court had ruled during a case instituted by Mr Buhari’s party that a police permit was unnecessary for the conduct of protests in a free society.

Femi Falana (SAN)
Femi Falana (SAN)

Mr Falana said the prosecution had argued that Mr Sowore may jump bail like the separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu. He however argued that the allegations against Mr Sowore does not support that claim.

Prosecution Opposes Bail

The prosecutor, Hassan Liman, responded to the arguments saying there was a likelihood of the defendants jumping bail.

He added that the reason why the bail should not be granted is to prevent the defendants from committing the same offence.

Mr Liman said Mr Sowore had personally chanted songs of revolution after his arraignment Monday and would repeat the same thing if he is released on bail.

READ ALSO: Malami can’t defend Buhari’s past but justifies detaining Sowore

Mr Liman referred to the argument by the defence counsel on Mr Buhari’s call for a revolution describing it as baseless and irrelevant in the present circumstances.

“I submit with respect that, that is an effort by the first defendant to support his call for a revolution,” Mr Liman said.

Mr Liman argued that like Nnamdi Kanu, Mr Sowore could jump bail if released on bail.

The ruling

After hearing the arguments and going on a brief break, the judge granted Mr Sowore bail with a bond of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.
The court also granted the second defendant, Olawale Bakare, bail with a bond of N50 million.

The court said Mr Sowore must avoid partaking in any rallies. It also ordered both defendants to remain within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

It is the second time the court is granting the defendants bail.

President Muhammadu Buhari protesting in November 2014
President Muhammadu Buhari protesting in November 2014 (Photo Credit: The Nation)

The State Security Service (SSS) had ignored the earlier one last week but instead produced the defendants before the court on Monday for arraignment.

Mr Sowore is facing trial for alleged fraud, treasonable felony and cyberstalking among other offences.

The government argues that by calling for a protest tagged #RevolutionNow, Mr Sowore was seeking to overthrow the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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