LIVE UPDATES: FG Arraigns Sowore, Bakare
Welcome to our live updates page on the arraignment of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare.
The duo are being arraigned by the Federal Government on seven charges bordering on alleged conspiracy to commit treason, money laundering, and insulting the President, among others.
They were brought to the court on Monday by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
However, counsel to Sowore and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, is absent in court.
The arraignment comes one week after Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered the release of Mr Sowore, more than five days after a detention order the judge issued against him elapsed.
11:57 AM: The defendants’ lawyer asked for a short adjournment to enable him move the bail application which he said will be filed today and served today.
11:51 AM: The trial judge said the bail will be granted based on the terms of the court and asked Mr Olumide to file a formal bail application.
11:49 AM: For the second defendant, Mr Olumide said he is concerned with only two of the counts. He made an oral application but he was stopped by the judge who said a formal bail application must be made.
11:44 AM: The defendants’ counsel informed the court that the reason given for keeping them in custody was for the DSS to conclude investigation and the prosecutor has just confirmed that investigations have been concluded.
He noted that the first defendant has been admitted to bail prior to today but has not been allowed to enjoy the bail.
Olumide asked the court to admit Sowore to bail on the basis of the condition for bail which he was formally granted.
“We can make available to the court evidence of bail conditions met. His passports and other travel documents are with the Chief Registrar of this court,” the lawyer added.
11:43 AM: The prosecutor asked for a date for trial after telling the court that investigations have been concluded.
11:45 AM: Count 7 is transfer of funds. “That you Omoyele Sowore on 16th July at Lagos and Abuja committed an offence by transferring the sum of $16,975 from your account in USA with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the funds. He pleaded not guilty.
11:40 AM: The sixth count is transfer of funds contrary to the Money Laundering Act. “That you Omoyele Sowore on the 27th of June did commit an offence by transferring the sum of $16,967 credited by Sahara Media Group USA with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the funds.
He entered a not guilty plea.
11:38 AM: Sowore was also accused of transferring $20,475 dollars from his UBA account credited by Sahara Reporters Media Group in New York with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the funds. He also entered the same “not guilty” plea.
11:37 AM: Sowore said he is confused that he has no UBA account and does not understand how one can transfer money from City Bank through UBA to another bank.
He, however, said since his counsel has advised him to enter a plea, it is a not guilty plea.
11:36 AM: The next count is transfer of funds. “That you Omoyele Sowore on April 2019 at Lagos and Abuja commit an offence by transferring the sum of $19,975 from your UBA account credited by City Bank, USA into a Sahara Bank Account with the aim of concealing the origin of the funds.”
11:34 AM: Cyberstalking is the third charge. “That you, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, and others at large did commit offence by sending a message by means of press interview to Arise TV which you knew will cause insult and hatred towards the President.”
11:32 AM: Sowore said he was arrested on August 5th and so does not understand the charge. His co-defendant, Bakare, also says he does not understand the charge.
Both defendants say they are pleading not guilty based on the advice of their lawyer.
11:31 AM: The second charge is on treasonable felony. ‘That you, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, and others at large under the coalition for revolution staged a revolution campaign on 5th day of August aimed at removing the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces during his tenure in office.
11:31 AM: Charges are being read to the defendants. The first charge is ‘conspiracy to commit treasonable felony’.
“That you, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, under the name #RevolutionNow, did conspire amongst yourself to carry out revolution protests aimed at removing the President.”
Both defendants say they understand the charge as far as the English language goes. They pleaded not guilty.
11:24 AM: The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu is ruling. She said the counsel does not take plea on behalf of defendants and since charges have been served on them, they are at liberty to take their plea.
According to the judge, it should be noted that a defendant can decide to change his plea and she sees no breach to stop them from taking their plea.
She added that incidentally, none of the defendants has said that the order of court asked that they should not be charged to court.
11:12 AM: Olumide said when Sowore’s lawyer served the prosecution with form 48, they went to the press to say they will report the judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC), trying to scare judges.
He insisted that they served Falana of their intention to arraign on the pages of newspapers, saying “we know those who do cases on the pages of newspaper.”
He said the order of the court is before the court and the court can go ahead to decide, stressing that a party cannot disobey the court and seek favours from the same court.
11:07 AM: Olumide insisted that the defendants have had no interactions with their lawyers.
He also insisted that orders of court must be obeyed before the government can come for another favour from the court.
11:04 AM: Liman said the order of Justice Taiwo Taiwo has expired and has no life since the defendants are available for arraignment.
He added that what they are expected to do is take their plea.
11:00 AM: He said the submission of Sowore’s lawyer is for the press.
10:45 AM: The defendants’ counsel informed the court that on September 24, the Federal High Court made the following orders:
That the respondent be released forthwith but he must deposit his travel document with this court within 48 hours with the court, and that the defendant must be released to Mr Femi Falana forthwith and that Mr Falana must produce him whenever it is time for his trial.
10:38 AM: Olumide, however, says he is taking aback by the statement of the prosecutor. He said his colleague cannot stand up and tell the court that he cannot have his opinion added.
He insisted that it is not another court but the Federal High Court which granted an order of release and the case is the same as the one before the court.
10:37 AM: Liman said if Olumide is talking about not having access to his client, that is okay but nothing else that is not before the court can be brought forward.
10:36 AM: Olumide was cut short by Liman who also addressed the court. According to the prosecutor, the business of the court is arraignment and the proceedings in another court have no business in the matter of the court.
He said this is the first time the defendants are being arraigned and the history at another court should not be allowed to create the impression that something else has happened.
10:35 AM: The second reason the court ought not to allow the arraignment today, according to the defendants’ counsel, is that their appearance today has a history.
10:34 AM: He said Falana was at that office until 10:30 PM on Friday, adding that he only read about the arraignment on the newspaper.
10:33 AM: Olumide said while it is true that the defendants were served on September 20, it is only in this court that one of the defendants asked him what is served on him, as he is seeing it for the first time and the opportunity for a consultation has not happened.
10:31 AM: He adds that it was only on Sunday that Mr Falana called him to inform him of his being outside Nigeria and appealed to him to hold his brief.
He adds that the information Falana gave to him was that throughout last week, he was resuming and closing at the office of the DSS and was denied access to the defendants.
10:30 AM: Olumide explains that the first, being that it is part of a process of arraignment for the defendants to have access to their lawyers who will go through the charge and advise then on what steps to take.
10:29 AM: However, counsel to the defendants said that his clients are not in any position to take their plea this morning. He gave two reasons for this.
10:28 AM: Mr Liman informed the court that the case is set for arraignment and since the first and second defendant are in court and have been served with the charge on September 20, 2019, the government is ready to arraign them.
10:25 AM: He said he is holding the brief of Mr Femi Falana who is unable to be in court this morning.
10:25 AM: Counsel to Sowore, A. Olumide, also announced his appearance.
10:22 AM: The prosecutor, Mr Hassan Liman, announced his appearance on behalf of the Federal Government.
10:21 AM: The case has been called while Sowore and Bakare are in the dock.
9:37 AM: The judge returns to court.
9:28 AM: Journalists were asked to leave the court, but were eventually allowed to stay.
9:25 AM: Sowore was greeted by his supporters who did not realise that the trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, had arrived, forcing the judge to return to chambers.
9:17 AM: Mr Sowore arrives in court in company with his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare.
Thank you for staying with us.
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