Amotekun: AGF’s Statement Is Clearly Diversionary And Hypocritical – Falana

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said that the Attorney General’s statement concerning Operation Amotekun is diversionary and hypocritical.

The human rights lawyer stated this while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Falana said, “In this case, the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federal Government is clearly diversionary and hypocritical. Hypocritical in the sense that the governments of Kano and Zamfara states have set up HISBAH Commission and just recently, the HISBAH operatives in Zamfara State arrested a police officer alleged to have been caught in the midst of three women.”

 

Speaking further, Falana noted that in the northeast zone, there is a civilian JTF made up of 26000 volunteers armed to assist the military in waging the counter-insurgence operations.

READ ALSO: FG Declares Operation Amotekun Illegal

Citing other examples, the rights activist stated that in Lagos state there is the neighborhood watch created by law, an organization that he argues is working and assisting the police to address security challenges in the state.

According to Falana, it is disturbing that the Attorney General of the Federal Government can say that his legal opinion was not sought, stressing that there is no constitutional nexus between the Attorney General of the Federal Government and the state governments in that each state of the Federal Republic has its own Attorney General.

He argued that to talk of the Attorney General of the Federation is a misnomer, a carry-over from the military era. Falana explained that Mr. Malami is the Attorney General of the Federal Government in Abuja while other states have their own Attorney Generals to advise the government.

Having said this, the Senior Advocate surmised that the AGF has no power to proscribe any organisation in Nigeria.

‘It Is Unlawful For Buhari’s Daughter To Use Presidential Jet For Private Affairs’ – Falana

 

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has said that the private use of the Presidential Jet by members of President Buhari’s immediate family, is not in accordance with law. 

Falana in a statement on Sunday urged President Buhari to stop members of his family from using the aircraft within the presidential fleet.

The erudite scholar noted that the “official policy” of the federal government “does not authorise the children of the President to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions”.

He added that there is no precedent whatsoever for such privatisation of the presidency of Nigeria.

Falana further stressed that at the inception of his government, President Buhari had promised to reduce the cost of maintaining aircraft in the presidential fleet, which according to him, stands at N8.5 billion in the 2020 budget.

“On October 27, 2016, the Presidency confirmed the newspaper reports of the planned sale of the two Presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7x executive jet and Hawker 4000.

“In a press statement issued by the Presidency through the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu the Nigerian people were informed that President Buhari had directed that the aircraft in the Presidential air fleet be reduced to cut down on waste.

“The presidential spokesman reminded Nigerians that President Buhari was elected in 2015 on a commitment to crack down on the country’s systemic corruption, hence downsizing the outlandish presidential fleet had been among his campaign pledges.

“‘In particular, Mr. Shehu had said inter alia:

“‘When he campaigned to be President, the then APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari, if you recall, promised to look at the presidential air fleet with a view to cutting down on waste’.

“His directive to a government committee on this assignment is that he liked to see a compact and reliable aircraft for the safe airlift of the President, the Vice President, and other government officials that go on special missions.”

“President Buhari’s directive on the use of the presidential fleet which was adopted by the Federal Government was popularly acclaimed by Nigerians.

“Since then the national assembly has ensured that the annual Appropriation Bills enacted into law have made provision for the maintenance of the aircraft in the presidential fleet in line with the official policy.

“In the 2020 Appropriation Act the sum of N8.5 billion was earmarked for the maintenance of the aircraft in the presidential fleet,” Falana explained.

READ ALSO: Presidential Fleet Not For Hanan’s Photography Trip, PDP Tells Buhari

Falana went on to argue that when on January 10, 2020, one of the daughters of President Buhari was reported to have travelled from Abuja to Bauchi in a presidential jet for a private engagement, it was in utter breach of the official policy of the Federal Government.

Hanan Buhari, the president’s daughter, had flown in a presidential jet to Bauchi on Thursday for a private function.

Many Nigerians condemned the action, but the presidency defended it.

Mr. Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman, said it is normal practice for the president’s family to use the presidential aircraft.

Reacting to the presidency’s claim, Falana stated that instead of apologising for the breach of the official policy, the Presidency has defended the use of the presidential jet for the private visit of a member of the first family.

He said the presidency is incorrect as it is at variance with the official policy of the Federal Government, adding that the official policy does not authorise the children of the President to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions.

“In fact, there is no precedent whatsoever for such privatisation of the presidency of Nigeria. Having publicly declared that his administration would maintain “a compact and reliable aircraft for the safe airlift of the President, the Vice President and other government officials that go on special missions” President Buhari is estopped from allowing members of the first family to use the jets for their private affairs,” Falana opined.

The rights advocate stated that the so-called ‘normal practice’ of using the aircraft in the presidential fleet by members of the first family to attend to private engagements is not backed by any extant law or official policy.

According to Falana, the use of the aircraft in the presidential fleet by the Senate President, House Speaker and Chief Justice of Nigeria has not been approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission which is the statutory body empowered by the Constitution and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act to determine the remuneration and allowances of all political office holders in Nigeria.

The Senior Advocate was of the opinion that a country which is said to be the headquarters of the greatest number of poverty-stricken people in the world cannot afford to waste billions of Naira on the use of presidential aircraft and the hiring of commercial jets by state governors that are owing workers several months of unpaid salaries.

FG Should Stop Subjecting Sowore To Media Trial – Falana

 

 

Counsel to Mr Omoyele Sowore and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Federal Government to stop subjecting his client to a media trial. 

Mr Falana said it is embarrassing that the Federal Government which has found it difficult to prove its case in a competent court of law has resorted to the media trial of Sowore.

The rights activist said, even though the government has failed to engage in the diligent prosecution of the serious case, the Presidency has resorted to media trial while the charge of treasonable felony is allowed to hang menacingly on the heads of his clients.

Reacting to a statement by a presidential spokesperson, Mr. Garba Shehu claiming that “Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria,” Mr Falana said he and his team are not going to be tempted to join issues with the Presidency over a case that is pending before a properly constituted court of law.

READ ALSO: Soyinka Criticizes DSS for Sowore’s Re-arrest

He said if the Presidency is so sure that his clients committed a treasonable felony or any other offence whatsoever it should keep its powder dry and advise the prosecution to commence the trial without any further delay.

Falana said it is common knowledge that Sowore and Bakare are not among the well-known merchants of violence and coup plotters that had successfully but illegally removed democratically elected governments in Nigeria his team is not going to join issues with Mr Garba Shehu over the highly contemptuous statements credited to him.

The Senior Advocate, however, argued that as a senior journalist Mr Shehu ought to have known that it is highly unprofessional to subject a man who is held incommunicado to scurrilous attacks in the media.

The lawyer stated that he is convinced that Sowore will have a right to reply once the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people are restored.

He noted that even though the allegations of terrorism and treasonable felony against Sowore had collapsed like a pack of cards the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN engaged in a face-saving measure by charging him (Sowore) and Olawale Bakare with a treasonable felony for planning to organise public protests against the Buhari administration.

Speaking further, Falana said that while not sure that the charge of a treasonable felony would succeed in the court the AGF proceeded to charge Sowore with money laundering and cyberstalking for allegedly insulting President Buhari in a television interview.

He stressed that while Sowore and his co-defendant have been held in custody even after being granted bails by competent courts, the organisers of the public protests which were held in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River and Osun states who were charged with unlawful assembly, but have been discharged and the case dismissed following the no-case submission of the defence counsel, Mr Effiong Inibehe.

According to Mr Falana, the defendants in the other cases have been granted bail pending trial by the various Magistrate Courts.

“Having met the bail conditions they have regained their freedom,” he added.

He expressed optimism that his clients will also soon regain their freedom, stressing that his team is considering several legal actions following the rearrest.

DSS Does Not Necessarily Need Permission Of The President To Arrest Sowore – Presidency

 

 

The Presidency says the Department of State Services does not necessarily need the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest persons of interest like a detained activist, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

This is according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu.

In the statement, the president’s aide noted that the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

Mr. Shehu further stated that it should not surprise anyone who has followed Sowore’s actions and words that the Sahara Reporters Publisher is a person of interest to the DSS.

He said Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely-read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow,” Garba Shehu said.

READ ALSO: Sowore’s Rearrest: US Govt Calls For Respect For Rule Of Law

The President’s spokesman argued that no government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

He further stressed that Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.

“He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.”

The presidency via its spokesman noted that Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation which he claims Mr. Sowore was advocating.

He said, “To believe in and desire an armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.

“Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.

“Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.

“The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in faraway New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.”

Mr. Shehu in his concluding argument said the Sowore case is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.

Sowore’s Rearrest: ‘This Has Never Happened Before’, Falana Slams DSS

 

Lead Counsel and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has criticised the Department of State Security Services (DSS) for rearresting his clients, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare at a Federal High Court in Abuja, barely 24 hours after their release from DSS custody.

Mr. Sowore and his co-accused, Mr. Bakare, were released on Thursday night, following an order given by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu who gave the security agency a 24-hour ultimatum to effect the bail order earlier issued.

Mr. Falana who spoke to Channels Television on Friday stressed that the DSS had said they were inviting the duo for questioning at their office to answer a few questions on fresh charges, but are yet to disclose what they are.

“The atmosphere was very rowdy, but I insisted that the arrest could not be carried out within the precinct of the court. He was going to be arrested outside the premises but there was a crowd that resisted the arrest, but I appealed to everybody and asked Sowore to jump into my car and so we drove to the office of the SSS because they said he will just answer a few questions, but now he is being detained.

“We are going to take steps under the law by asking for his release again since they are claiming this is a fresh arrest.

“Nobody has disclosed yet what his charges are; he couldn’t have committed any other offence because he has been detained for the past four months unless the SSS wants to tell the whole world that he committed this fresh offence while in their custody,” he stressed.

RELATED: VIDEO: Sowore Accuses DSS Of Trying To Assassinate Him

He also narrated the build-up to Sowore and Bakare’s rearrest, expressing dismay at the actions of the DSS.

“This morning, the SSS lawyers and the lawyers of the Attorney-General reported to the court that the order of the court had been complied with and I confirmed because our clients were released last night.

“As soon as the court adjourned the matter to February next year, the SSS operatives pounced on the court, disrupted proceeding and then attempted to arrest our clients even in the web of the court, that was extremely embarrassing because it has never happened in Nigeria where you enter a court to arrest anybody, even an alleged coup plotter.”

Mr. Sowore and Mr Bakare who were released at about 7:15 pm on Thursday are facing seven counts bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, money laundering and cybercrimes, amongst others.

They were arrested on August 3, days before a planned #RevolutionNow protest against “bad governance” in the country.

Court Orders Transfer Of El-Zakzaky, Wife From DSS Custody To Correctional Facility

BREAKING: Court Fixes October To Rule On El-Zakzaky's Bail Application
Ibrahim El-Zakzaky addresses reporters in Abuja in January 2018.

 

 

A Kaduna state high court sitting in the state capital has ordered that the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife be transferred from the custody of the DSS to a correctional centre in the state.

The trial judge, Justice Gideon Kudafa in his ruling on Thursday says the decision to remand the IMN leader and his wife in a correctional facility is to enable their lawyers and doctors to have easy access to them.

He, therefore, adjourned the case to February the 6th for the commencement of trial.

The IMN leader is facing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of the public peace, among other charges.

The trial judge, Justice Gideon Kudafa had on March the 26th adjourned the case indefinitely following his appointment as a member of the Election Petition Tribunal in Yobe State.

READ ALSO: Court Orders DSS To Release Sowore, Bakare Within 24 Hours

El-Zakzaky and his wife were not in court during the last proceedings, although their counsel, Femi Falana, claimed that their absence was due to their deteriorated health conditions.

He and his wife (Zeenat) were denied bail by the presiding judge during the last sitting on January 22, 2018.

In the application for bail filed by El Zakzaky’s lawyer, Femi Falana, on his behalf at the last sitting, the legal practitioner prayed the court to give a mandatory order for his client and his wife to be flown abroad.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court that this was to enable them to receive proper medical attention since the Federal Government has glaringly failed to cure them of the injuries they sustained during the alleged army’s onslaught on their residence in December 2015.

The judge in his ruling, however, ordered that El Zakzaky should be allowed by the government to bring doctors of his choice to examine him in the presence of doctors from the government before the date of the next sitting.

With the absence of the trial judge, Counsel to the IMN leader, Mr. Falana, filed a fresh application at another court of equal jurisdiction on July the 18th asking it to grant his clients leave to seek medical attention abroad and thereafter return for the continuation of their trial.

Consequently, on August the 5th, the presiding judge, Justice Darius Khobo ordered that the IMN leader and his wife be accompanied abroad by officials of the Kaduna State government.

The presiding judge ruled that El-Zakzaky and his wife should proceed to India for medical treatment, after which they will return to Nigeria to face their trial.

Court Orders DSS To Release Sowore, Bakare Within 24 Hours

Omoyele-Sowore-Olawale-Bakare-Femi-Falana

 

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to release Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, within the next 24hours. 

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the order at the scheduled commencement of the defendants’ trial on charges of treasonable felony.

According to Justice Ojukwu, the DSS had no justifiable reason to continue to hold the defendants in custody, after she signed the warrants for the release of the defendants from custody.

The prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), had insisted that the DSS did not refuse to comply with the order of the court.

He insisted that no order of the court has been violated, adding that none will be violated.

READ ALSO: ‘Sowore Is Not Miyetti Allah’, FG Is Treating Judiciary With Disdain

According to him, the prosecution don’t even want the defendants in their custody.

The trial judge Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu asked him why have they not been released, a question which left him tongue-tied.

She insisted that she signed the bail order and she does not understand why it has not been complied with.

Justice Ojukwu said the matter will not continue, adding that since today’s matter is adjourned at their instance she will award a cost of 100000 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 100,000 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.

Justice Ojukwu insisted that the law cannot change for anybody and all must respect the law.

The case has been adjourned to the 6th of December for a report on the court’s order.

Obey Nigerian Courts Like You Obey British Courts, Falana Tells FG

 

 

A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana has asked the Federal Government to start complying with Nigerian Court injunctions the same way it heeds the ruling of foreign courts. 

Mr. Falana a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), accused the Federal Government of disobeying valid court orders in Nigeria while it complies with orders from Britain.

A British commercial court had ordered a deposit of $200m dollars while granting a stay of execution for a $9.6 billion dollar judgement awarded against Nigeria in favour of Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) limited.

READ ALSO: Sowore: SERAP Petitions African Commission Over ‘Harassment Of Sureties, Falana’

In line with the ruling, the country’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami confirmed on Thursday that a $200 million bond deposit was made following the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter to the AGF on Sunday, Mr. Falana said the Federal Government did not give any pre-condition before obeying the court of its “former colonial master” as it does at home.

He, therefore, asked the federal government to comply with court orders and release Mr Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #revolution-now movement.

According to him, if the AGF fails to accede to his request, he will be left with no option than to pursue the contempt proceedings which have been initiated against the director-general of the DSS, Mr. Yusuf Bichi, as well as report the AGF and the prosecutor to the Nigeria Bar Association and the legal practitioners privileges committee for encouraging the State Security Service to treat orders of Nigerian courts with disdain while obeying the orders of British courts.

Operation Positive Identification: Court Fixes Date For Hearing Of Preliminary Objection

 

Justice Mohammed Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed a date for the hearing of the preliminary objection filed by the Nigerian Army against the suit filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana to challenge the Operation Positive Identification (OPI).

The judge had on earlier November 5, ordered the Army to suspend the operation pending the final determination of the suit.

READ ALSO: Operation Positive Identification: Falana Sues Nigerian Army, Buratai And Malami

An earlier hearing date for yesterday, but the courts new date was fixed as a result of  Mr Falana’s application seeking for short adjournment for him to respond to the respondents’ application.

Counsel representing the Army and the chief of Army Staff (1st and 2nd respondents), Mrs. Olayemi Badewole, didn’t oppose the applicant’s application for short adjournment.

The solicitor general of the Federation, Dayo Apata (SAN), who represented the Attorney General of the Federation (third respondent) did not also oppose it.

In the absence of any opposition from other parties, the court fixed the new date, December 12, for hearing.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation were joined as co-respondents in the suit marked fhc/l/cs/1939/2019.

In the suit, Mr Falana argues that the planned nationwide operation which was scheduled to run from November 1 to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification, is unconstitutional, illegal, and null and void.

He insisted that the operation violates his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, “as encapsulated in section 35 respectively of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 6 of the African charter on human and Peoples rights (ratification and enforcement) act, (Cap a10) laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

In an affidavit in support of the suit, Falana disclosed that by virtue of section 215 (3) of the constitution, the Nigeria Police Force “has the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country” and not the army.

He further contended that the President could only deploy military to suppress insurrection or restore law and order when such need arises in line with section 217(1) of the constitution.

The silk averred that there is no insurrection in every part of the country which is beyond the control of police to warrant the deployment of armed troops all over the country from November 1, 2019 to December 23, 2019.

According to him, the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai is not empowered to take over police duties while the President and Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces also lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country by virtue of section 217 (a) (b) and (c) of the constitution.

He added that neither the constitution nor the armed forces act cap a20 lfn, 2004, empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.

Sowore: SERAP Petitions African Commission Over ‘Harassment Of Sureties, Falana’

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mrs Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the commission’s members requesting them: “to urgently intervene and put pressure on the Nigerian authorities and their agents to immediately end the intimidation and harassment of detained journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare.

In the letter, SERAP asked the commission to also pressure the government for the harassment of the detainees’ sureties and lawyers, particularly Femi Falana, SAN who are only defending their clients’ rights.

According to SERAP, “Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) has stated that it would not release the activists until it is allowed to vet sureties that have already been verified by the court, implicitly harassing the sureties apparently with the aim of pushing them to disown the detained activists. Similarly, a group of apparently sponsored ‘protesters’ calling themselves ‘Save Nigeria Movement’ asked Femi Falana to ‘stop intimidating security agencies.’”

In the petition dated 22 November 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The harassment of detained activists for demanding strict compliance with court orders, and then their sureties as well as lawyers who come to their defence, shows a steady slide away from the rule of law and underscores the urgent need for the Commission to insist on the restoration of respect for human rights in Nigeria.”

SERAP also said: “The harassment is emblematic of a broader pattern of official threats to and harassment of Nigerian civil society. We are concerned that rather than releasing Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court, the Nigerian authorities are now implicitly intimidating the activists, sureties, and lawyers, particularly Femi Falana.”

READ ALSO: Tackle Electoral Violence, Not Third Term, PDP Tells Buhari

The letter copied to Mr. Diego GARCÍA-SAYÁN, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, read in part: “Apparently sponsored attacks, harassment, and intimidation of sureties and lawyers for doing their independent duties undermine and erode the integrity of the legal profession, access to justice, Nigerians’ confidence in the courts, and make a mockery of the entire justice system.”

“The harassment is emblematic of a broader pattern of official threats to and harassment of Nigerian civil society. SERAP is seriously concerned that rather than releasing Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court, the Nigerian authorities are now implicitly intimidating the activists, sureties, and lawyers.”

“SERAP condemns the use of apparently sponsored protesters to harass and intimidate Sowore and Bakare’s lawyers particularly Femi Falana. The intimidation and harassment of Sowore and Bakare’s legal team is intended to, and will most likely lead to, other lawyers being unwilling to defend anyone facing politically motivated and high-profile prosecutions.”

“Sureties and lawyers are essential to ensure the effective operation of the justice system, and the rule of law; they need to be protected not harassed and intimidated. Lawyers ought to have the freedom to carry out their legal work and should never have to suffer any intimidation and harassment for discharging their professional duties.”

“These actions hinder the ability of lawyers to freely carry out their professional duties and severely restrict access to justice and fair trials for the detainees, with a consequent erosion of fair administration of justice, equality of arms, and the rule of law. By targeting the detainees’ sureties and lawyers, the Nigerian authorities are implicitly harassing and denying them their right to claim justice.”

“Sowore and Bakare were arrested simply for calling a national protest. Amnesty International has declared them prisoners of conscience detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Sowore, Bakare, their sureties and lawyers particularly Femi Falana continue to face hostility, intimidation and harassment.”

“As one of the main actors of an independent justice system, lawyers have an essential role to play in protecting human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees, and ultimately contribute greatly to ensuring respect for the rule of law.”

“The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders affirms the right of everyone peacefully to oppose human rights violations. It prohibits retaliation, threats and other harassment against anyone who takes peaceful action against human rights violations, both within and beyond the exercise of their professional duties.”

“Similarly, the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provide that governments are to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”

“Further, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party guarantees the right to freedom of expression; the prohibition of arbitrary detention and the right to a fair trial and due process of law. Nigeria is also a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which in Article 14 guarantees the right of the clients of the concerned lawyers to an effective defense.”

“Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) has continued to refuse to release Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare despite court orders.”

“The SSS has stated that it would not release the activists until it is allowed to vet sureties that have already been verified by the court, implicitly harassing and intimidating the sureties and by extension, the detainees and their lawyers, particularly Femi Falana, apparently with the aim of pushing the sureties to disown the detained activists, and Mr Falana to withdraw from the suit. However, under Nigerian law, the SSS does not have any power to vet sureties.”

“Also, a group of apparently sponsored ‘protesters’ calling itself ‘Save Nigeria Movement’, asked Femi Falana to ‘stop intimidating security agencies.’ The group recently held a rally in Abuja to say ‘enough is enough’ to Femi Falana. The group held up banners conveying their remonstrances such as—’Falana stop blackmailing Nigerian military’ and ‘Falana enough is enough’.”

SERAP, therefore, urged Mrs. Maiga and the commission’s members to urgently put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to: Stop apparently targeted harassment and intimidation of Sowore, Bakare, their sureties and lawyers particularly Femi Falana, and those working closely with them;

Take measures to protect sureties and lawyers so that they can perform their duties without intimidation, harassment. or improper interference;

Immediately release Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court;

Promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the allegations of harassment and intimidation of detained activists, their sureties and lawyers and to identify and bring to justice those suspected to be involved;

Take prompt and effective measures to ensure the safety and independence of Femi Falana and members of his legal team.

Sowore, Bakare Sue DSS, Demand N1bn Compensation

Omoyele-Sowore-Olawale-Bakare-Femi-Falana

 

Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-detainee, Olawale Bakare, have each filed a suit of N500million before the Federal High Court in Abuja against the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

Following their continued detention in DSS custody, both men are seeking N500m in damages.

They sought the award of a total sum of N1bn “as general and aggravated damages” for the “illegal violation of their fundamental rights” to life, dignity of their person, fair hearing, health, freedom of movement and freedom of association.

According to the suits, the arrest and physical assault of the duo by operatives of the DSS in Lagos and Osogbo on August 2 and 5, as well as their continued illegal detention by the security agency, constituted a violation of their rights.

READ ALSO: Another Disgraceful Justification By SSS For Detaining Sowore – Falana

They alleged that the two respondents; the DSS DG and the AGF violated their various rights guaranteed under sections 35, 36 and 37 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Their separate suits were filed on their behalf by their team of lawyers led by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN).

Sowore, in the suit, accused the respondents of violating his rights by their refusal to release him, despite meeting the conditions attached to the bail granted him.

He also accused the DSS of assaulting him when its personnel came to arrest him in Lagos.

Sowore argued that the DSS’s failure to disclose the offense he allegedly committed and why he was arrested violated his rights.

He, therefore, prays the court to award N500million damages in his favour, against the respondents as compensation for the violation of his rights.

 

Another Disgraceful Justification By SSS For Detaining Sowore – Falana

 

Human Rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has criticised the Department of State Services for a statement adduced by the SSS regarding why Mr Omoyele Sowore is yet to be released. 

In a communique on Tuesday, Falana said the actions of the service regarding the case of Sowore is denting the image of the nation.

He narrated how he was in Abuja to participate in a public forum on “Digital Voting in Nigeria, adding that before the end of the programme, he asked one of his colleagues in chambers, Mr Abubakar Marshal to book an appointment for him to visit his clients, Messrs Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare in the illegal custody of the SSS.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) further stated that at the end of the event, Mr Abubakar informed him that the SSS had fixed the appointment for 10am on Wednesday. However, Mr Falana said that at about 9.30am this morning the SSS called to inform him that the appointment had been shifted to 2pm.

READ ALSO: Dasuki/El-Zakzaky: DSS Statement A Justification Of Brazen Abuse Of Power – Falana

The rights activist said he was driving to the office of the SSS at noon when his attention was drawn to another reason adduced by the Service for disobeying the order of the Federal High Court for the release of his clients.

He said, “In a very disgraceful statement the sss claimed that Sowore could be knocked down by a moving vehicle if released from illegal custody.

“Even though the diversionary press conference was deliberately designed to blackmail me I discountenanced and proceeded to honour the appointment.

“Thus, in a brief meeting with our clients, I informed them that upon the verification of their sureties the federal high court had ordered their release from custody,”.

Falana went on to say that in order to arm his clients to press for their rights, he gave them a certified true copy of the court order for their release which had been served on the SSS management.

He further stated that his clients debunked the claim of Dr. Afunanya that they have been given access to the telephone and other facilities.

According to the Senior Advocate’s communique, he advised the management to restrain Dr. Peter Afunanya from further exposing the country to avoidable ridicule in his desperate bid to justify the illegal detention of our our clients.

In view of the claim of the SSS that Mr. Sowore could be knocked down by a moving vehicle if left alone, Falana offered to drive him out of the headquarters of the SSS. But his request was turned down.

Falana accused the SS of playing to the gallery in a rather puerile manner.

He said he finds it difficult to believe that the Director General of the sss, Mr. Mogaji is aware of the highly misleading claim of Dr. Afunanya that he had not put a call through to him.

Falana further stressed that since he has evidence of his several text messages and telephone calls that were ignored by Mr. Mogaji, he has decided to report the misconduct of Dr. Afunanya to the appropriate agency of the Federal Government for giving false information to members of the public.