How DSS Re-Arrested Sowore at High CourtHow DSS Re-Arrested Sowore after Court Proceedings
The operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) have re-arrested the Publisher of Sahara Reporters and the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant Olawale Bakare after a court Proceedings.
The operatives claimed that they wanted to ask Sowore some questions in their office.
This is coming less than 24 hours of his release from detention on the order of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu. The trial assumed a different dimension after the judge had adjourned the trial till February 11, next year.
As Sowore and Bakare were leaving the courtroom and the judge was already attending to another case, DSS operatives attempted to arrest them.
Sowore rushed back into the court with the secret operatives rushing after him, a development that disrupted the ongoing proceedings at the court as his supporters and legal team shielded him from the attempt to arrest him.
Meanwhile, Olawale Bakare, co-defendant to Sowore has been allegedly declared missing. While Sowore was driven back to the DSS in Falana’s car, where he was re-arrested and detained.
The operatives of the agency are currently searching for Bakare in different parts of Abuja. The uncertainty surrounding Bakare’s whereabouts at the moment has indeed added a new twist to the matter.
Meanwhile, Sowore’s counsel has described the action of the DSS as a “horrendous, bizarre, and barbaric contempt of court” never witnessed under “even the most brutal of past dictators that had ever ruled Nigeria”.
He said, “Under the military regime, the so-called enemies of the government would not be arrested in the web of the court which is considered a sanctuary.
“The military regimes would always show some respect for the court and would only arrest after the person left the court premises.
“What we have witnessed today is alien to Nigeria.”
He said at a meeting which Justice Ojukwu called to be held in her chambers with him and the prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), the judge “expressed dismay” over the development as she said, “she was made to flee her court”.
After the meeting Falana and the prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), held with the judge, the defence lawyer criticised the operatives’ move to make an arrest within the court premises.
He offered to drive his client to the DSS headquarters in Abuja.
The operatives agreed with the arrangement as they drove in vehicles in front and behind Falana’s car while they made their way to the DSS headquarters.
Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana insisted that the arrest should be effected outside the court premises which the operatives obliged
The DSS had early obeyed a court order by releasing the previous day after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja had expressed displeasure over the refusal of the Department of State Service (DSS) to release Sowore and his co- accused, Olawale Bakare.
The Judge had ordered DSS to release Sowore within 24 hours and that the evidence of his release must be made available to the court for confirmation.
Sowore, the publisher of Sahara reporter and his co-defendant are facing a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, money laundering and cybercrimes amongst others.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail on October 4, in the sum of N100m and N50m respectively with two sureties in like sum.
For Sowore, one of the sureties according to the judge must deposit the sum of N50m cash as security for the bail.
However, the court had two weeks later varied the bail conditions following a request to that effect.
Justice Ojukwu had signed the release of the bail of the defenfants after they met the bail conditions.
But the DSS had refused to release the defendants even after evidence that they have met the conditions attached to the bail.
However at the resumed hearing on yesterday Justice Ojukwu was infuriated that her order on the release of the defendants was yet to be obeyed.
Counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana SAN had complained to the court that its order as regards release of documents and the defendants who have been granted bail and have met the attached conditions has not been complied with by the prosecution.
Falana, who told Justice Ojukwu that one month after the court ordered service of documents to be tendered on the defence, the prosecution only served the defence the documents yesterday and hence would be needing time to study the documents as well as watch the attached videos with the defendants.
He also prayed the court to direct the prosecution to serve the full statements of all listed witnesses instead of a summary statement to aid their defence.
The defendants lawyer further told the court that he was having difficulty gaining access to his client who is still in custody of the prosecution despite meeting his bail conditions.
At this instant, Justice Ojukwu called on the prosecution counsel to explain why Sowore and Bakare were still in their custody.
Responding, prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman SAN, admitted that the order was served on the prosecution but the defendants were yet to be released because the DSS had asked their sureties to come for identification.
Interjecting, Justice Ojukwu asked the prosecution counsel whether that request was part of the Court’s order.
“Is that part of the order, is there a parrallel court here, who is directing that? Is there another court else where? The court queried.
Justice Ojukwu expressed pain that the DSS could flout her orders even after she took time to ensure that the bail conditions were met.
In a short ruling, the judge ordered that the defendants be released within the next 24 hours and adjourned to Friday November 6 for report of compliance.
On the request for adjournment by Sowore’s lawyer for time to study the documents and videos tendered as evidence against Sowore, Justice Ojukwu held that because the adjournment was created by the prosecution she was inclined to award cost against the prosecution.
She recalled that while adjourning the matter on November, she had ordered that the prosecution serves all necessary documents it intends to tender on the defence before the commencement of trial on Thursday.
“Since the last time, you did not deem it necessary to serve”, she said while refusing Liman’s claim that the late service was due to administrative bottleneck.
Justice Ojukwu subsequently awarded a cost of N100,000 against the Prosecution, adding that trial would only go on upon payment of the N100,000 fine.
The DSS had on August 3, 2019 arrested Sowore in Lagos, for calling for a revolution through a protest scheduled to hold on August 5, while Bakare was arrested in Osogbo on October 5.
Since their arrest they have remained in the custody of the DSS.