The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the State Security Service(SSS) to release Omoyele Sowore, the Sahara Reporters Publisher, and Olawale Bakare, his co-accused, within 24 hours.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the order on Thursday, following the agency’s disobedience to a court order to release them.
The Federal High Court had ordered the immediate release of Messrs Sowore and Bakare from prison on October 21.
In a court order dated November 12, the judge said the SSS must release Mr Sowore as directed by the court or it’s topmost official would be guilty of contempt and liable to be committed to prison.
Mr Sowore, who was arrested on August 3 by the SSS for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag #RevolutionNow, was granted bail for the second time on October 18.
SSS did not respect a previous bail granted the defendant on September 24.
The two accused persons are facing a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.
There have been growing calls for their release, with many condemning the government of President Buhari for their arrests and charges.
Mr Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, defended his client’s choice of the word “revolution” for the August 5 protest that later held in some parts of the country.
The lawyer said even the Supreme Court does not regard a revolution as an offence.
“Even a coup that sustains the status quo has been said not to be a revolution by the Supreme Court,” he said.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, Justice Ojukwu gave the order for the release within 24 hours, saying that the SSS has no justifiable reason to continue to hold Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare in custody after she signed the warrants for their release.
The prosecuting lawyer, Hassan Liman, had insisted that the SSS did not refuse to comply with the order of the court.
Mr Liman said no order of the court had been violated, adding that none would be violated.
The senior counsel said the prosecution does not even want the defendants in their custody.
Following this, the judge asked him why have they not been released, a question which left the counsel tongue-tied.
Justice Ojukwu insisted that she signed the bail order and she could not understand why it has not been complied with.
The judge said the matter will not continue, adding that since today’s matter was adjourned at their instance, she would award a cost of N100,000 against the prosecution.
“The failure of the prosecution to carry out the order of the court to serve the defence and in view if this adjournment is at the instance of the prosecution. And in view of section 396 of ACJA, I will award the cost of N100,000 against the prosecution. And in view of the refusal of the prosecution to release the defendant, this court will give the prosecution the next 24 hours to comply with the order of court,” she said.
Mrs Ojukwu insisted that the law cannot change for anybody and all must respect the law.
The court adjourned to December 6 for a report on the court’s order.