AGF Has No Power To Proscribe Any Organisation In Nigeria, Says Femi Falana

 

The Attorney General of the Federal Government has no powers to proscribe any group, this is according to Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Mr Falana said, “The Attorney General of the Federal Government, Malami SAN, has no power whatsoever to proscribe any organisation in Nigeria.”

The legal practitioner’s comment comes in reaction to a statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, suggesting that the newly launched ‘Operation Amotekun’ is illegal.

According to the AGF, the setting-up of the paramilitary organization called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.

Reacting to the AGF’s claim while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Mr Falana said the Attorney General’s statement concerning Operation Amotekun is diversionary and hypocritical.

The human rights lawyer noted that even in proscribing IPOB or the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the Federal Government had to approach the court, adding that it is disturbing that the Attorney General of the Federal Government can say that his legal opinion was not sought while the paramilitary organisation was being formed.

Falan stressed 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 further stated that the idea of the Attorney General of the Federation is a misnomer that was borrowed from the military era.

The Senior Advocate was of the opinion that Mr Malami is the Attorney General of the Federal Government in Abuja while other states have their own Attorney Generals to advise their governments.

Falana explained that before the official launch of Amotekun at Ibadan, Oyo State last week, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim held a meeting with the southwest governors represented by Gov Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

He further enunciated that at the end of the meeting the Police endorsed the security initiative, adding that by virtue of section 318 of the Constitution the word “government” is said to include the Government of the Federation, or any State, or of a local government council or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf.

In Falana’s opinion through the Inspector-General of Police, the federal government has ratified the establishment of Amotekun. He adds that the statement of the Attorney-General of the Federal Government that he was not consulted before the establishment of Amotekun is totally uncalled for and ought to be ignored by the southwest governors.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said:

With respect, Mr. Malami’s purported proscription of Amotekun is hypocritical and discriminatory on the grounds that the Civilian JTF operating in Yobe and Borno states is constituted by 26,000 well-armed volunteers who have been assisting the armed forces to combat terrorism in the northeast region.

Similarly, the governments of Kano and Zamfara states have established the Hisbar Commission. It is common knowledge that the HISBAH operatives in Zamfara state recently arrested a policeman who was alleged to have been caught in the company of three women.

The Lagos State government has equally established the Neighbourhood Watch to assist the Police and other security agencies in protecting the life and property of every person living in Lagos.

No doubt, section 214 of the Constitution stipulates that there shall be only one police force in Nigeria. But the federal government has breached the Constitution by setting up other police forces. For instance, the Nigerian Security and Defence Corps is another police force established by law.

The State Security Service is also a police force established by law. Its operatives are well-armed. They wear masks even in broad daylight. The federal government has also authorised the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Offences Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Correctional Service, and other paramilitary agencies to bear arms.

To that extent, the federal government cannot stop any state from setting a security outfit. In fact, having lost control of the monopoly of violence to armed gangs in the various parts of the country the federal government lacks the legal, political and moral right to challenge security outfits set up by state governments and individuals to protect the lives and property of the people of Nigeria.

Mr Falana submitted that since Amotekun is not an outfit set up by southwest governors to harass or intimidate political opponents it cannot be prohibited under section 227 or any other provision of the Constitution.

Falana argued that the Constitution has not prohibited the establishment of security outfits for the defence of the people of Nigeria, adding that if Mr. Malami is convinced that his position is backed by law he should approach the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of Amotekun.

He advised the governments of Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Oyo states to ignore Mr. Malami’s purported proscription and proceed to enact the necessary laws similar to the Neighbourhood Watch Law of Lagos State.

Nigerian Lawyers Are Comfortable With Impunity, Human Rights Violations – Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigerian, Femi Falana, has challenged Nigerian lawyers to stand up to their responsibilities describing their actions and inactions as comfortable towards impunity and human rights violations.

Falana disclosed this on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He also went down the memory lane saying the NBA has a history of protecting the rule of law but present-day NBA simply holds seminars and annual lectures.

“Nigerian lawyers are comfortable with impunity, abuse of the rule of law, and violations of human rights.

READ ALSO: Court Stops INEC From Conducting By-Election To Fill 14 Edo Assembly Seats

“We have a history of struggle in this country. Under the previous military regimes, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stood its ground in protecting and defending human rights. That is no longer the case.”

He stated further that in 1987 when the late Alao Aka-Bashorun was NBA president, no one or even dictator dared violate court orders but the reverse is the case in the present-day NBA.

“Today we are only interested in organising annual seminars, dinners and at the end of the day, the bar is not doing much.

“I am talking of when human rights were put in abeyance by military dictators. Our judges insisted that the rule of law must be fully complied with.

“So, nobody or regime was allowed to treat court orders with contempt or disdain,” the human right lawyer said.

Falana further lamented that it is only when rich people are oppressed that the NBA and even the media speak out loud.

“It is only when the rich are arrested, where we can make money, that we shout from the rooftop. So there is human rights violation in Nigeria.”

He further called for human rights enlightenment and education in Nigerian schools and called on the state government to introduce human rights courses in school curriculum.

Dasuki, Sowore’s Release: Falana Asks FG To Free El-Zakzaky, Wife, Others

Omoyele Sowore                                                        Femi Falana                                     Sambo Dasuki

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has noted the release of his client and convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, as well as former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

In a statement on Tuesday, Falana confirmed the directive of the Federal Government to the Department of State Services (DSS) to release the duo in line with the orders of the court.

He also acknowledged that the government has since complied with the court order regarding Sowore’s co-accused, Olawale Bakare, saying only the #RevolutionNow protests convener was rearrested after the drama which played out on December 6 at the Federal High Court in Abuja.


RELATED
DSS Releases Omoyele Sowore
Sambo Dasuki Released After Over Four Years In Detention


The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, had ordered the DSS to release Sowore and Dasuki, saying the decision was in compliance with the bail granted the two men by the court.

“Since the (Muhammadu) Buhari administration has now embraced the rule of law, Mr Malami should ensure that the valid and subsisting orders of all courts are obeyed in accordance with section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said Falana.

The senior advocate also called for the release of the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem Elzakzaky, and his wife, Zeinat, who were arrested in December 2015, as well as others he described as political detainees and criminal suspects still in detention.

Read the full statement below:

ON THE RELEASE OF SOWORE AND DASUKI ON BAIL

We have confirmed that the Federal Government has decided to comply with the orders of some municipal and regional courts for the release of Mr Omoyele Sowore and Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

With respect to Mr Olawale Bakare he was not rearrested like Mr Sowore. So, the order of the Federal High Court for his release on bail was complied with by the State Security Service on December 5, 2019.

However, we call on the Federal Government to release other political detainees and criminal suspects in line with valid and subsisting orders of courts.

In particular, we request the Federal Government to liaise with the Kaduna State government to withdraw the charge filed against Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, Mrs Zeinat Elzakzaky who have been detained since December 14, 2015.

The Federal High Court had on December 2, 2016 declared the detention of the couple illegal and unconstitutional and ordered the Federal Government to release them from custody forthwith.

Apart from awarding them reparation of N50 million, the Federal High Court also ordered the Federal Government to provide them with a temporary accommodation since the Nigerian Army had destroyed their family house in Zaria.

However, in a bid to stop the protests of the Shiites who were demanding for the release of their leaders on the basis of the orders of the Federal High Court, the Federal Government asked the Kaduna State government to arraign the couple in the Kaduna State High Court.

Even though they have been charged with procuring certain persons to kill a soldier, the Kaduna State High Court has since discharged and acquitted the persons allegedly procured by the Elzakzakys to kill the said soldier.

By ordering the release of Colonel Dasuki pursuant to the orders of courts, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has jettisoned the reactionary position that national security takes precedence over the rule of law.

Since the Buhari administration has now embraced the rule of law, Mr Malami should ensure that the valid and subsisting orders of all courts are obeyed in accordance with section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Femi Falana SAN.

Malami Cannot Wash His Hands Off Sowore’s Detention, Says Falana

 

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has insisted that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, cannot wash his hands off with respect to the illegal detention of Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Security Service (DSS) contrary to an earlier position.

Mr. Malami In a statement on Monday said that the Federal Government is guided by extant laws and tradition of the law in handling legal matters and related litigations.

In response, Mr Falana who is the legal representative of Mr Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, stressed that since Mr Malami took over the criminal case from the DSS, he is deemed to possess “the constitutional powers in full and the responsibility for any decision thereupon rests solely on him.”

RELATED: Falana Writes AGF, Requests Sowore’s Release

Sowore: FG Will Not Take Unilateral Decision – Malami

Mr Falana who had written to the AGF, to direct the DSS to release Sowore on bail, in compliance with the order of the trial judge, the Honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu, stated that Mr Malami needs to take cognizance of the legal implications of taking over a pending criminal case in exercise of the powers of an Attorney-General under the common law and the Constitution.

“Since Mr. Malami has taken over the case of FRN v Sowore v Another he is deemed to possess “the constitutional powers in full and the responsibility for any decision thereupon rests solely on him. Therefore, he cannot like Pontius Pilate wash off his hands with respect to the illegal detention of Sowore by the State Security Service.

“Furthermore, since section 287 of the Constitution has imposed a legal obligation on all authorities and persons in Nigeria to comply with the decisions of all competent courts the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Malami is duty-bound to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore on bail in compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court.”

While quoting the AGF in his response, Mr. Falana reiterated and called for the release of Mr Sowore.

“In the said statement the Attorney-General stated that ‘When parties submit their issues for determination to a court of law, they lack exclusivity of decision over such issues without recourse to the court. We remain guided by the established tradition and will not take a unilateral decision without recourse to the rule of law’.

“We fully agree with the Attorney-General because he has stated the law correctly.  On the basis of the legal principle, we are compelled to call on the Attorney-General to reverse the “unilateral decision” of the State Security Service to continue to incarcerate Sowore ‘without recourse to law’.

“Having taken over the prosecution of the case pursuant to section 174 of the Constitution the Attorney-General should not hesitate to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore without any further delay.”

Falana Writes AGF, Requests Sowore’s Release

Femi Falana (SAN)

 

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has written to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, seeking the release of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).

In the letter dated December 13, 2019 and made available to Channels Television on Monday, Falana urged the AGF to use his office to direct the DSS to release Sowore from custody in line with the order of the Federal High court admitting him to bail pending trial.

READ ALSO: Alleged Corruption: ICPC Arraigns Ex-Court Registrar, Wife Over Litigant’s N80m

Falana’s letter was titled, ‘Request For The Release Of Omoyele Sowore From Illegal Custody.’

It follows an earlier announcement by the AGF office that it had taken over the prosecution of Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, from the DSS.

“Following the announcement of your decision to take over the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria v Omoyele Sowore & Another, two members of  the legal defence team visited the headquarters of the State Security Service on December 13, 2019 to demand for the immediate release of Sowore from illegal custody.

“Our colleagues were however advised to direct the request to your office in view of the fact that you have taken over the case from the State Security Service.

“In the light of the foregoing, we hereby request you to use your good offices to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore from custody in line with the order of the Federal High court admitting him to bail pending trial. We are confident that you will not hesitate to grant our request as no court has issued any remand order for his detention,” the letter read in part.

The AGF’s decision to takeover the case follows criticism of the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the operatives of the DSS to re-arrest Sowore on December 6.

Dismiss Criminal Charges Against Sowore, Bakare Without Delay, Falana Tells AGF

Falana Writes AGF, Requests Release Of 10 People From ‘Navy Detention’

 

Lead Counsel and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to terminate all legal proceedings against the convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare immediately.

Mr Falana in a statement reacted to the orders by Mr Malami to the DSS, insisting that it is not a take-over because the case was filed from the office of the AGF.

He explained that the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team led by Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN) and hand over to the DPP.

“It is not a take-over because it was the AGF that filed the Sowore’s case and farmed it out to Dr. Hassan Liman SAN. But in view of the violent invasion of the court by armed operatives of the SSS, the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team and have the case prosecuted by the DPP.”

READ ALSO: AGF Takes Over Sowore’s Case From DSS

Mr Falana stated that the Department of State Services has remained adamant to make a case out of Sowore and are currently fishing for pieces of evidence to nail Sowore.

“Having been advised that Sowore cannot be convicted on the basis of the proof of evidence filed in court the SSS has refused to make the statements of the prosecution witnesses available to the defendants as ordered by the trial court. Hence, hearing in the case has been adjourned to February 20, 2020, at the instance of the Prosecution.

“Convinced that the pending case would collapse like a pack of cards, the SSS is currently fishing for evidence to nail Sowore.

He added that “In spite of the directive of the AGF to take over the case the SSS subjected Sowore to a 4-hour interrogation yesterday (December 12, 2019).

“The entire interrogation pertained to Sowore’s alleged links with the proscribed Boko Haram sect, IPOB, and IMN which he vehemently denied. At Sowore’s instance a member of the legal defense team, Mr. Abubakar Marshal witnessed the marathon interrogation. The plan of the SSS is to charge Sowore with terrorism in line with the unsubstituted allegations of presidential media aides.

“In view of the foregoing, we urge the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance which has exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment.”

Sowore’s Rearrest: DSS Desecrated Court, Their Leader Apologised, Falana Insists

 

Counsel to Mr. Omoyele Sowore and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has insisted that the DSS is guilty of desecrating the court despite the denial by the service.

The secret police had invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday to rearrest Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement,  barely 24 hours after he was released on the order of the court.

The DSS however, denied infiltrating the court, stating that the Service did not attempt arresting Sowore inside the court, alleging that his supporters only “stage-managed the drama” to bring the service to disrepute.

Debunking the claim by the DSS, Mr. Falana said not only did the DSS officials invade the court premises, causing the court to hurriedly end its activities, their leader also apologised to the judge.

According to Mr. Falana the presiding judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu had summoned the head of the DSS team in her chambers and asked him to justify the invasion of the court after which he reportedly offered an apology before he was asked to withdraw his men from the courtroom.

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

Below is a full statement from Mr Falana regarding the matter.

SSS APOLOGISED FOR INVASION OF COURT!

Our attention has been drawn to the self contradictory press release of the SSS in which an unsuccessful attempt was made to absolve itself of responsibility for the armed invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, in general, and the desecration of Court No 7 of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in particular as well as the illegal rearrest of Omoyele Sowore.

First, pretending to forget that the abominable desecration of the Federal High Court was covered live by domestic and international media outfits and journlists, some of whom were also direct victims of the gangsterism, barbarism and brutalisation displayed by officers of the Service on the 6th day of December 2019, the Service has conducted “eye witness” accounts of what transpired with the aim of showing that officers of the Service were not involved in the rearrest of Sowore.

Second, the Service argues on the one hand that the arrest of Sowore was “stage managed” by his supporters in order to give the Service a bad name whilst also admitting at the same time that officers of the Service arrested Sowore outside the Court. Having declared that the Service arrested Sowore “outside the court”, despite the “stage managing” argument, what the Nigerian people want to see happen is the immediate release of Sowore, pending his trial as ordered by the court.

INDUBITABLE FACTS CONFIRMING DESECRATION OF COURT AND RE-ARREST BY THE SERVICE

However, the following facts underscore our insistence that the Service was solely responsible for the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the court:

By the advantage of information technology, the whole world has placed responsibility for the gangsteric desecration of the court on the SSS. The SSS cannot extricate itself from the abominable acts of 6th December, 2019.

When I informed the court that fresh charges were being filed against our clients and that they could be re-arrested, the prosecution denied any such plan.

As soon as the case was adjourned the SSS pounced on Sowore and caused a disruption of the proceedings of the court. Having taken over the court room vi et armis Justice Ojukwu hurriedly rose and asked the Registrar to adjourn all other cases. After the learned trial judge had risen for the day she summoned the heads of the prosecution and defence teams to her chambers.

When the lead prosecutor, Dr. Liman Hassan SAN denied knowledge of the invasion of her court she directed him to invite the head of the sss team in the court. When challenged to justify the invasion of the court the officer could not. He apologised to Justice Ojukwu on behalf of the sss. The judge then directed the officer to withdraw the sss operatives from the court room. The directive was complied with as the operatives withdrew from the court room but rushed out to join their colleagues who had taken over the entire court house.

Notwithstanding that the sss could not produce any warrant of arrest for Sowore the defence team decided that I should accompany him to the sss headquarters in view of his physical brutalisation inside the court room and the open threat to his life. I did and ensured that he was driven in my car to the sss headquarters where I handed him over to the officers on duty. Thereafter, I requested for a meeting with the head of the sss but I was informed that he was not in the office.

Though, ordinarily, officers of the Service do not wear any uniform, on the 6th day of December, some of them were in mufti, many were not only armed but also masked while others disguised in lawyer’s black and white suit. Regardless of the form of appearance, the officers of the Service inside Court No. 7 were identifiable by their roles and acts of seizing Sowore and pinning him down. It is an utter poor reasoning to say that Sowore’s supporters were also those bent on injuring him in order to arrest him. The argument of the Service in this respect is as unfortunate and pitiable as the earlier argument of the Service in respect of the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was once accused of wanting to set ablaze his own house.

If Sowore’s supporters subjected him to such brutalisation in the presence of sss operatives why were they not arrested for contravening the provisions of the Anti Torture Act, 2017? Or were the SSS operatives expecting the supporters of a defendant wanted by the State to kill him in their presence?

Before submitting himself for arrest Sowore had rightly demanded for a warrant of arrest and detention order but the sss operatives were unable to produce either.

ON RATIONALISATION OF RE-ARREST OF SOWORE BY THE SERVICE

In rationalizing the re-arrest of Sowore, which is denied in the same Press statement, the Serivce alleged that Sowore held metings with some people. Assuming without conceding that Sowore held meetings with some people in Transcorp Hotel as alleged by the sss, why did the Prosecution not inform the trial court that the defendant had breached his bail condition?

ON THE CLAIM OF THE SERVICE THAT IT IS LAW-ABIDING

The sss says it is a law abiding institution. But why did it refuse to comply with the order of Justice Taiwo to release Sowore? Why did the sss threaten to report the judge to the NJC for granting bail to Sowore?
Why did the sss subject the order of Justice Ojukwu for the release of Sowore to its own approval by asking the sureties already verified by the judge to report themselves to the sss? Why the SSS wait for the 24-hour ultimatum issued by the trial judge before releasing Sowore and Bakare,?

Incidentally, the current prosecutor, Dr. Liman Hassan SAN was the counsel to the defendant in the case of FRN v Air Commodore Mohammed. In that case the order of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba for the release of the defendant on bail was flouted by the SSS. As if that was not enough, the sss invaded the home of the judge on 8th October 2016 when the houses of judges accused of corruption were raided. Even though I have never appeared before Justice Dimgba I have always known him as a judge of impecable integrity. So, I challenged the sss for painting an incorruptible judge with the brush of shame. It was after my intervention that the NJC gave the judge a clean bill of health.

Thereafter, the judge was compelled to withdraw from the case. The SSS thought that it had won but it was a phyrric victory. Thus, Justice John Tsoho (current Chief Judge of the federal high court) to whom the case was re assigned reiterated the orders of Justice Dimgba and proceeded to rule that trial would not commence in the case until the defendant was released from custody. It was at that stage that the sss complied with the order of the federal high court.

Conclusion

In the light of the foregoing we reiterate our demand for the release of not only Sowore in obedience to court orders, pending the verdict of the court in their trial. We equally call for the release of all other political detainees, and criminal sispects who have been admitted to bail pending trial by competent courts.

Finally, it is common knowledge that this country was ruled by military dictators for about three decades. On no occassion did security operatives invade court premises to arrest political activists inside a court room. Therefore, the bizzaire harassment of courts cannot be tolerated under a democratically government that claims to operated under the rule of law.

Six Key Things Femi Falana Said After DSS Re-Arrested Omoyele Sowore

 

Femi Falana

 

On Friday, men from the Department of State Services re-detained founder of the Revolution Now campaign, Omoyele Sowore less than 24 hours after they released him.

Moments after he was re-detained, Mr. Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, exclusively spoke to Channels Television about the development. Here are five takeaways from what he said.

DSS ‘Disrupted’ Court Proceedings to Arrest Sowore

After his release Thursday evening, Sowore was set to appear in court the next day. He did, accompanied by Mr. Falana and some of his supporters.

The high court in Abuja, presided by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, was sitting to ascertain whether the DSS had complied with its order directing the release of Mr. Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

However, after the judge adjourned the case between Sowore and the federal government till February 2020, DSS officials swooped in.

“ . . . the SSS operatives pounced on the court, disrupted proceedings and then attempted to arrest our clients even in the web of the court.”

‘It was extremely embarrassing’

Mr. Falana described the ensuing scenario as “extremely embarrassing.

“It has never happened in Nigeria where you enter a court to arrest anybody, even an alleged coup-plotter. The atmosphere was very rowdy.”

Footages obtained by Channels Television showed Mr. Sowore involved in a scuffle inside the courtroom.

‘No arrest can take place within the court premises’

Faced with the “rowdy” situation, Mr. Falana insisted to DSS officials that they had no right to arrest Sowore within the premises of a court.

“I insisted that the arrest could not be carried out within the precinct of the court,” Mr. Falana said.

A crowd resisted Sowore’s arrest

Footages obtained by Channels Television showed people standing in front of DSS vehicles in order to frustrate their plans to arrest Sowore in 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,” Mr. Falana said.

Why was Sowore arrested?

Apparently, no one knows yet, not even Mr. Falana.

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

What next?

Mr. Falana said he will explore provisions of the law to secure his client’s release.

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

Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has asked the National Assembly to make laws that will pronounce death penalty for corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons.

Mr Falana while reacting in a statement to the hate speech bill currently debated by lawmakers described it as an encroachment on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

A bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Sabi, was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and has generated reactions across the country.

The bill proposes that any person, who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained that the National Assembly has no power to exercise such power because Hate Speech is not covered in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent Legislative Lists.

“Since we are operating a federal system of government the supreme court of Nigeria had declared in a number of cases that the national assembly lacks the constitutional powers to make laws outside its legislative competence, which are by implication residual matters meant for the houses of assembly of the states. Certainly, the hate speech bill is an attempt to encroach on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

“However, it is pertinent to point out that the Penal Code and Criminal Code applicable in the northern and southern states respectively have made provisions for hate speech because it is a state offence. Hence, the house of assembly of each of the state has enacted laws against incitement, false accusation, sedition and criminal defamation.”

Mr Falana decried the move, urging the sponsors of the bill to uphold the decision of Nigeria’s founding fathers who created a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech.

“The decision of the founding fathers of this present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticize should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided in the Constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue.

“Finally, while the leaders of the national assembly may want to advise the legislature in each of the states of the federation to review the applicable penal statutes to review the provisions on hate speech we are compelled to urge the few bloodthirsty legislators in the national assembly to amend the anti-graft laws to provide death penalty for grand corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons to the detriment of development in the country.”

He added that even though the bill is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, it has been adopted by the Buhari-Led Federal Government.

He maintained that the constitutional validity of the Bill will be challenged in the Federal High Court if it is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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

 

Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has berated the Department of State Services for saying that a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and others, freely chose to remain in DSS custody rather than in prison.

Mr. Falana described the statement as put out by DSS Spokesman, Peter Afunaya, as a justification of the brazen abuse of power.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said instead of apologising for exposing Nigeria to underserved odium the spokesperson of the security agency asked Nigerians to believe that Sowore and Bakare, Mr. and Mrs. Elzakzaky and Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) “rather chose to be looked after by the DSS”!

“Since we are counsel to the majority of these detainees in question we are compelled to join issues with the SSS on its latest justification for such brazen abuse of power,” Falana stated.

He went on to argue that at various times in the past 4 years, the Federal High court, the Federal Capital Territory High Court, the Court of Appeal and the ECOWAS court of justice admitted Col. Dasuki to bail pending trial.

According to Falana, upon meeting his bail conditions on 30/12/15 Dasuki was released by the Kuje prison authorities. However, the SSS operatives arrested him at the gate of the prison and have since been detained in defiance of the orders of the aforementioned municipal and regional courts.

READ ALSO: DSS Statement Concerning Sowore’s Release ‘Totally Misleading’, Says Falana

Falana said, “With respect to Elzakzakys the Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed had said on June 16, 2017, that “Elzakzaky is actually not in prison custody nor police custody nor DSS custody? El-Zakzaky is in a house with his family, this is the honest truth.

“The court ruled that he will be released after his house has been rebuilt. Nobody wants to accept El-Zakzaky as a neighbor. So we have been able to build a house, where do we release him to?” When was the Elzakzakys transferred to the custody of the sss from the house built for them by the federal government?

“On another occasion, the Federal Government claimed that Mrs. Zeinat Elzakzaky was not detained but that she chose the company of her detained husband, Mr. Elzakzaky. As if that was not enough Mr. Lai Mohammed disclosed that the federal government was spending N3.5 million to feed the Elzakzaky per month. Since the Elzakzakys have been detained illegally for the past 46 months the federal government must have wasted N168 million on feeding the couple!

“The Federal Government has since justified the detention of Col Dasuki and the Elzakzakys by saying that the local and regional courts had failed to take cognisance of the fact that “national security takes precedence over the rule of law.” In fact, for not realising that Sowore ought not to have been admitted to bail the sss was reported to have threatened to report Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the federal high court to the National Judicial Council.”

The human rights lawyer further drew the attention of Mr. Bichi Mogaji, the Director-General of the State Security Service to Section 287 of the Constitution, stating that a duty has been imposed on all authorities and persons to comply with the decisions of all competent courts in Nigeria.

He urged the SSS to urgently comply with the orders of the municipal and regional courts for the release of all detainees and criminal suspects languishing in unlawful custody without any further delay.

[UPDATED] DSS Statement Concerning Sowore’s Release ‘Totally Misleading’, Says Falana

 

 

Human Rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has described as totally misleading, a statement by the Department of State Service (DSS), concerning the release of the convener of the #RevolutionNow Protest, Omoyele Sowore.

A Federal High Court had on Wednesday, November 6, ordered the release of Sowore and Bakare, following an application for their bail.

But the anti-graft agency failed to comply with the order, claiming that it was yet to receive it.

The service later confirmed on Friday that it had been served the bail order, but was yet to release the accused.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Service, Dr Peter Afunanya, nobody turned up at the Service’s office to take delivery of Sowore.

But contrary to the claims of the DSS, Mr Falana noted that they yet again failed to release his clients to the lawyers who waited in vain in the agency’s headquarters for up to four hours on Friday.

Read More: DSS Receives Court Order, Says Nobody Has Come For Sowore

He, thereafter, stated that two lawyers from his law firm had been directed to contact the management of the DSS for the release of their clients by 10:00 am on Saturday.

Read the full statement below.

FRN V Sowore & Another: The Statement Of The SSS Is Totally Misleading.

On 6/11/19 the bailiff of the federal high court wanted to serve the reproduction warrants issued by the court on the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS).

But the sss asked the Bailiff to call back at 10.00 am on 7/11/19. The bailiff did and was able to serve the reproduction warrants on the DG of the SSS.

Upon acknowledging the service of the reproduction warrants the sss assured the bailliff and 5 lawyers from the defence team that our clients would be released yesterday. But the sss decided not to release our clients to our lawyers who waited in vain in the agency’s headquarters for not less than 4 hours.

When Sowore said that he would not make a statement without first consulting with me the sss management called me on phone on 6/8/19.

Assuming the sss had wanted to release our clients since yesterday the management would have contacted me.

It is pertinent to point out that the meaning of reproduction warrant issued by a trial court is that the defendants be produced for the purpose of releasing them having met their bail conditions.

In the instant case, the Federal High Court did not order the sss to hand over Messrs Sowore and Bakare to any person but to produce them for the purpose of releasing them having met the suffocating bail conditions imposed on them by the trial court.

Even though the SSS disobeyed the order of the Honourable Justice Taiwo for the release of Mr Sowore on 24/9/19 it has turned round to announce its readiness to comply with the order of the Honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu for the release of Sowore and Bakare from illegal custody.

While thanking the Nigerian people for demanding for unconditional compliance with the orders of the federal high court we have directed two lawyers from our law firm to contact the management of the SSS for the release of our clients at 10.00 am on 9/11/19.

Meanwhile, we appeal to Sowore to call off his hunger strike forthwith.

Femi Falana SAN


[UPDATE] DSS Yet To Release Sowore – Lawyer

Hours after lawyers were sent to the headquarters of the Department of State Services on Saturday, to receive Sowore, he is yet to be released.

A member of his legal team, Barrister Marshal Abubakar, who led a team of family members to the headquarters of the DSS to receive him, confirmed this to Channels Television.

Barrister Abubakar said after putting calls across to some high ranking DSS officials, they were told to wait, as the persons who could authorise Sowore’s release were unavailable.

Alleged Treason: DSS Denies Refusing To Release Sowore

The Department of State Services (DSS) on Thursday denied reports that it has refused to comply with court order granting bail to the convener of #revolutionnow protest, Omoyele Sowore.

Sowore is standing trial for alleged treasonable felony.

The Spokesperson of the DSS, Peter Afunaya told Channels Television that the Service was yet to be informed that Sowore had perfected his bail conditions as stipulated by the court.

READ ALSO: Sowore’s Trial: My Clients Have Fulfilled Bail Conditions, Will Be Freed Soon – Falana

Despite meeting their bail conditions, Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, are still in the custody of the DSS after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja had ordered their release on Wednesday, November 6.

The counsel to Sowore, Mr Femi Falana, told Channels Television on Wednesday that his clients have met the bail conditions imposed on them with regards to the charges of treasonable felony preferred against them by the Federal Government

He added that lawyers from his team and court bailiffs would go to the DSS office on Thursday morning to effect the release of his clients.

Meanwhile, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has adjourned the trial of Sowore to the 5th and 6th of December, 2019.

The adjournment is occasioned by the objections raised by Counsel to Sowore, Mr Femi Falana to the effect that the defense team was never served with the witness statement that the prosecution is relying on to proceed with the trial.

The human rights advocate insists that there is a deliberate attempt on the part of the prosecution to ambush the defense team.