Rather than free Sowore, Bakare, Nigerian govt wants them transferred to prison – Falana

Omoyele Sowore
Omoyele Sowore

A lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday said the federal government has applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order of transfer the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) to prison.

Messrs Sowore and Bakare have been in the custody of the SSS since August. They were arrested for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag #RevolutionNow.

The SSS had refused to release both men despite two separate court orders.

The two men are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter dated December 1 and addressed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Mr Falana, who is the lawyer representing the accused, requested the minister to direct the SSS to release his clients.

Mr Falana urged Mr Malami to ensure compliance with the orders of the courts.

The senior counsel also threatened to report the AGF and Hassan Liman, the prosecutor appointed by the minister to prosecute the publisher and his co-accused, to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee, to take disciplinary actions against them for allegedly encouraging the SSS to continue to disobey the orders of court for his clients’ release.

Mr Falana said, “In treating the court order with provocative contempt, the State Security Service has insisted on approving the sureties of our clients after they have been verified by the Federal High Court.

“From the information at our disposal, there is no precedent whatsoever for the illegal demand.

“Instead of purging the security agency of such contempt of the Federal High Court, the prosecutor, Dr Hassan Liman (SAN), engaged by your good self to prosecute our clients, has curiously applied to the trial court to have them transferred to a correctional centre and detained indefinitely for having the temerity to question the illegal directive to produce their sureties.”

The senior lawyer added that, “In view of the fact that the Federal Government has never given any precondition before complying with the orders of the British Court in the case of P & ID and other matters, we are compelled to request you to direct the State Security Service to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court for the unconditional release of our clients.

“Take notice that if you fail to accede to our request, we shall be compelled to carry out the firm instructions of our clients to pursue the contempt proceedings which have been initiated against Mr Yusuf Bichi, the Director-General of the State Security Service.

“In addition, we shall also report your good self and the prosecutor to the Nigerian Bar Association and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee for encouraging the State Security Service to treat orders of Nigerian courts with disdain while you are anxious to obey the orders of British courts” Mr Falana said.

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