Sowore: Why we were in court – Shehu Sani, Odinkalu

Yele Sowore and Shehu Sani
Yele Sowore and Shehu Sani

A former Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, and a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu, on Wednesday, said they were at the Federal High Court in Abuja to show solidarity with the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.

Mr Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, fraud, cyberstalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.

Before the commencement of their trial on Wednesday, Messrs Sani and Odinkalu, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said they were in court to show solidarity with Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare.

Mr Sani said, “Sowore is a friend, brother and a comrade in the struggle. One that has proven over the years as a man who has dedicated and sacrificed a lot for democracy and freedom in Nigeria.”

The former senator, who represented Kaduna Central District, said Mr Sowore is a victim of the system they all fought against.

“It is unfortunate that for all that he fought and struggled for, today he is a victim of the very system that we fought against and also we are now in a new phase.

“I believe, this is the time, as much as he has always shown solidarity for me over two, three decades, I would always be with him.

“I am with him in heart, soul and in spirit,” he said.

Mr Sani added that they are all in court to identify with Mr Sowore’s course and struggle, which he shares.

Mr Sani, who is also facing trial for alleged fraud and was only recently released from the custody of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, said Mr Sowore’s bail is just like his own.

“He is on bail, I am also on bail, the difference is that mine is from the EFCC and he is from the DSS.

“I could have joined him but I am surprised that I wasn’t part of this because I was supposed to be part of this struggle,” he said.

Mr Sani was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on January 27, on a two-count charge bordering on alleged bribery. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

However, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, granted Mr Sani bail the same day he was arraigned.

He was granted bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum.

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Also on his part on Wednesday, Mr Odinkalu, who addressed journalists, said Messrs Sowore and Bakare are his comrades.

Mr Odinkalu said he was in court to observe the proceedings.

The former National Human Rights Commission’s chairman said the rule of law in Nigeria is “a total mess up.”

Asked to advise the government, Mr Odinkalu said he did not need to do so, as the government ought to know what to do.

“The Vice President is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), our AGF is a SAN, the junior minister for labour is a SAN, the SGF is a lawyer too.”

He said the number of lawyers in government was high.

“I am not even talking of those married to lawyers,” he added.

“So I do not need to advise them, they know what to do, If they so wish not to do it, it is their choice,” Mr Odinkalu said.

Court awards fine

Meanwhile, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, on Wednesday, awarded N200,000 cost against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for causing a frivolous adjournment in Mr Sowore’s trial.

She ordered the prosecution to pay the fine before Thursday and report to the court of its compliance to the order or pay in open court on Thursday.

It was the second of such occasion that the judge was awarding cost against the federal government.

The first happened last year when the judge imposed a fine of N100, 000 on the lawyer representing the SSS for refusing to furnish Mr Sowore’s lawyers with statements of SSS’ witnesses.

Mr Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, confirmed the payment of the fine to PREMIUM TIMES.

Messrs Sowore and Bakare were arrested on August 3 by the SSS for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag #RevolutionNow.

The SSS had on December 6 rearrested Mr Sowore at the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja a day after he was released from their custody. The publisher and Mr Bakare were released the night before on the order of Justice Ojukwu after spending 124 days in SSS custody.

Mr Sowore was later released on December 24, 2019.

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