The convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, has asked his supporters to remain resolute and not give up on what he termed “a brand new Nigeria”.
He made the call on Friday during his appearance at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
In this short video recorded earlier before the trial judge granted him and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare bail, a crowd of supporters surrounded Sowore in the courtroom, accusing security operatives of intimidating him.
Welcome to our live updates page on the bail application filed by the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare.
The duo were arraigned by the Federal Government on seven charges bordering on alleged conspiracy to commit treason and money laundering among others.
They were brought to the Federal High Court on Monday by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
However, Sowore and Bakare pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
Stay with us for updates on the proceedings…
12:49 PM: The second defendant has also been granted bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in like sum.
He is also to deposit his travel documents, stay within Abuja and must not hold any rally during the pendency of the case and like in the issue of the first defendant, no part of the bail conditions must be disobeyed.
12:48 PM: Where there is a violation of the bail conditions, she threatens that the court shall not fail to revoke the bail.
12:47 PM: The judge grants bail to the first defendant in sum of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.
She says the sureties must swear to an affidavit means of over N50 million and deposit tax clearance while the first defendant must deposit his travel documents and is prohibited from holding any public rally and must stay within the jurisdiction of Abuja.
12:45 PM: According to the judge, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) is clear as to when someone charged with treason can be granted bail.
“Since the charge before the court does not carry any death penalty, I am inclined to grant bail,” she said.
12:41 PM: The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, is back in court.
12:25 PM: The court registrar says the judge will be ready in 15 minutes.
11:30 AM: The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, says she will reconvene before 1PM.
11:25 AM: Falana concluded that the severity of the case is not necessary at this stage because the presumption is at the heart of the main case.
According to him, if anybody commits any offence, he can be charged and as such, the argument of the prosecutor should be rejected because it is not in line with modern jurisprudence.
The SAN adds that he will need his client to prepare for the severe case referred to by the prosecutor.
11:21 AM: Falana said in the life of this administration, about 100 people have been charged and asked why the prosecutor is depending on Kanu only?
And that unlike Asari Dokubo, the defendant did not admit to any offence and in any case, Asari’s case has not overruled the case of Abiola vs the State, or Ameh Obute and four others versus the State.
He also said that the allegations that they did not properly file the issue of the President calling for a revolution are untrue because it is a fact in the affidavit and in any case, it is settled law that the admissibility of a document cannot be raised at the interlocutory stage.
11:34 AM: Replying on points of law, Falana said the defendant have not been charged along with Kanu and that, in fact, in the proof of evidence the first defendant asked Kanu to come back and build Nigeria.
He added that Kanu’s case has no nexus with this and if they want him back, there is an extradition agreement between Nigeria and Britain but the Federal Government is not willing.
11:20 AM: As such, the court should take judicial notice of the case where the defendant has jumped bail and these defendants are likely to jump bail.
11:15 AM: He said he is ready for an accelerated hearing if it means hearing the case day-to-day.
He concluded by referring the court to the case of Nnamdi Kanu vs Federal Government 2015 in which the defendant is charged in similar circumstances and after he was granted bail by the court, he jumped bail.
11:12 AM: For the second defendant, Liman said he filed a 20-paragraph affidavit along with a written address which he adopts as his argument in the application.
He adopted his argument in respect of the first defendant, most especially on the issue of the severity of the offence.
11:10 AM: Liman, therefore, urged the court to hold that the documents are worthless pieces of papers and of no value.
He also asked the court to dismiss the bail application as bail is granted on special circumstances which the applicant has not satisfied.
11:09 AM: The prosecutor also submitted that the exhibits relied upon in the further affidavit of the defendant to say that other senior citizens of this country, including the President talked of revolution.
He said it is an effort by the first defendant to justify the action he is being tried for.
He submitted that it is not relevant for the consideration for whether or not the applicant should be granted bail.
11:06 AM: Liman stated that to demonstrate this, the first defendant when he was being taken away from the court on Monday, shouted ‘revolution’.
He said this averment of the conduct of the applicant has not been countered anywhere in the affidavit and it shows that the applicant if released is ready to resume.
11:05 AM: Liman, therefore, submits that the court should look at the severity of the case and likelihood of the defendant to jump bail.
He also said that one of the reasons bail should not be granted is the likelihood of the defendant repeating the offence.
11:04 AM: He told the court that this is an offence that is punishable by life imprisonment or any other capital punishment.
11:03 AM: Mr Liman, on his part, stated that the Abiola case was a decision of the appeal court alone and was as far back as the 90s’ but the case of Asari Dokubo was delivered in 2007 and that once there is threat to national security and if the severity of the event is high.
11:01 AM: Falana said this was stated specifically in the counter-affidavit of the prosecution.
He submitted further that as in Asari Dokubo, if the offence or allegation involves the issue of national security unless if the defendant shows special circumstances, bail will be granted but in Asari Dokubo, all the courts of the land refused to grant bail.
10:59 AM: He, therefore, submitted that in similar circumstances like the case at hand the Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court held that Asari Dokubo if granted bail will not make himself available for trial because he was a flight risk.
10:58 AM: Falana said he relies heavily on the case of Asari Dokubo vs the State in which Asari Dokubo was charged with criminal felony under Section 40 of the Criminal Code and the two defendants on charge one and the two before the court are charged for conspiracy to commit treason and treasonable felony like Asari Dokubo.
10:50 AM: In summary, Falana referred to a write-up by late Akinola Aguda where he warned that except fear of economic hardship is removed, the country is in danger of crimes.
He adds that the write-up was done in 1985 and urged the court to admit Bakare to bail in self-recorgnisance.
10:48 AM: He said that the complainant has no serious complaint to his bail application as the defendant does not leave in the US and cannot run away.
He said Bakare leaves in Osogbo and will not go anywhere.
10:47 AM: With respect to the second defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare, Falana adopted his written submission.
10:46 AM: Falana concluded that many paragraphs of the prosecutor’s counter-affidavit are erroneous and should be struck out and if they are dismissed, it means that the application is unchallenged.
10:45 AM: He also quoted the case of Dr Beko Ransom-Kuti and four others vs The State, saying he was personally involved and they were granted bail by a Magistrate Court in Gwagwalada in the sum of N20,000.
10:44 AM: Falana also cited the case of Ameh Obute vs The State in 1994 saying out of the persons charged for treason, four of them are in the APC today and are the leaders, including Ahmed Tinubu, Ameh Obute and Senator Ibrahim, and were all granted bail on self-recognisance.
10:43 AM: Citing the case of Abiola where he was charged with treason and treasonable felony, Falana said Abiola was granted bail by the Court of Appeal on self-recognisance and asked him not to engage in any activity that will jeopardise the peace of the country.
10:42 AM: On the second charge which is alleged transfer of money to Sowore’s company, Falana stated that the defendant transferred his own money and it was termed money laundering.
He added that the prosecutor advanced Asari Dokubo’s case and it is nowhere related to this case because Asari was nailed by his own statement where he said he blew up pipelines but nowhere in Sowore’s statement to DSS did he state or agreed to have done any wrong.
10:39 AM: Falana added that the current law now is that where there is a protest, the police should provide protection.
10:35 AM: On the issue of Insulting the President, he said under the current Constitution no public officer in the country is permitted to use the machinery of the state, especially security agencies to settle a score.
Falana cited Chief Authur vs the State in 1985. According to him, the court held that freedom to criticised should be praised and those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism as criticism is important in a free society.
Hence, If the President feels offended, Falana said the only choice available to him is to sue for libel as the right to protest has been guaranteed and recognised by the court.
10:33 AM: Falana challenged the prosecutor to show the court where the word revolution has been criminalised.
10:32 AM: Mr Falana submitted that even a coup has been said not to be a revolution by the Supreme Court.
In the case of Lakomi vs Government of the West in case SC58/69, he said the Supreme Court had cause to define revolution.
He said that a revolution is the overthrow on one class by another and not having a protest.
10:32 AM: He stated that the only time Nigerians have ever been prosecuted for a call for revolution was in 1948, reported in 1949 Rosita Ogbuna vs Rex.
According to him, those young men were charged with sedition because they wanted the colonial masters out of Nigeria.
10:28 AM: He insisted that there is nowhere it has been stated or shown that the first defend (Sowore) called for violence.
He further stated that the use of the word “revolution” has never been criminalised in Nigeria.
Hence, President Muhammadu Buhari called for a revolution and was never arrested or criminalised.
10:27 AM: Falana said in the counter affidavit, he has shown that leaders of the ruling party, including the President, has been calling for a revolution such as in 2011 when the President called for a revolution like that of Egypt.
10:25 AM: Falana further stated that there is a counter-affidavit filed by the prosecutor that the first defendant may not stand trial because he resides in the United States.
And that because one Nnamdi Kanu who was charged before this court jumped bail, the first defendant should not be granted bail.
Falana, however, filed a counter-affidavit and replied on points of law to the effect that in the entire grounds of the submission of the prosecutor who is the complainant, the fear or allegation is that the first defendant was going to overthrow the Government of Nigeria but no evidence was adduced to that claim.
10:25 AM: Falana said that the first defendant is presumed innocent by virtue of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and as such, the onus is on the prosecution to convince the court why the first defendant should not be admitted to bail.
10:23 AM: Falana also applied to the court to allow him adopt the written address.
He adds that the application is hinged on the fact that the first defendant has never committed an offence before and that investigation of his case has been concluded.
He also said the first defendant said he will never interfere or make contact with the witness of the prosecution.
10:18 AM: Falana said the motion is praying the court to admit Sowore to bail in liberal terms.
According to him, the application is supported by a 22-paragraph affidavit, three exhibits a, b, and c and a written address, as well as a certificate for compliance.
10:08 AM: The hearing has resumed. Mr Falana informed the court that there are three applications.
He said the first application for the first defendant which is Sowore was filed on September 30.
9:40 AM: The matter has been stood down for 30 minutes.
This is to allow the counsel to the defendants, Falana, to completely file his reply to the counter affidavit filed by the prosecutor, Hassan Liman, asking the court to turn down the application for Sowore and Bakare’s bail.
9:23 AM: Sitting has commenced and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, is in court to represent the defendants.
9:18 AM: The practice of allowing journalists to take shots before the judge arrives has been prevented by men of the DSS.
They did not give any reasons but made journalists promise not to take shots.
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.