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.

SERAP Condemns Rearrest, Invasion Of Justice Ojukwu’s Court

 

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has “strongly condemned the violent re-arrest today of Omoyele Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the apparent harassment and intimidation of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.”

Armed DSS officials reportedly stormed the courtroom, causing pandemonium at the court and physically assaulting Mr. Sowore. The judge reportedly had to take cover. She had earlier ordered the DSS to release Sowore within 24 hours and also pay him N100,000 for improper legal conduct. The DSS then released Mr. Sowore only for him and his co-defendant to be violently re-arrested.

Reacting, SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The appalling invasion of the courtroom and the ill-treatment of Sowore and Bakare is a blatant attack on the rule of law and the sanctity and integrity of our justice system. An independent judiciary, free from intimidation and harassment is a basic precondition to a functioning democracy under the rule of law.”

READ ALSO:  DSS Re-Arrests, Detains Sowore

SERAP’s statement read in part: “The violent re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare right inside the courtroom is a textbook case of a mockery of justice and abuse of the judicial process. It drives home the failure of the Nigerian government to fulfill its constitutional and international human rights obligations to respect citizens’ human rights and observe the rule of law.”

“What happened in the courtroom is a fatal blow to human rights and the independence and integrity of the judiciary. SERAP is seriously concerned that the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari is not observing fundamental international human rights and due process standards.”

“We urge the Nigerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and Bakare and end the fragrant attack on the rule of law. “If Nigerian authorities are serious about human rights and the rule of law, they should hold those responsible to account. Only then will Nigerians have full confidence in this government’s ability to protect their human rights, obey the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”

“The United Nations Human Rights Council, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and members of the international community should urgently put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to end serious violations and abuses of human rights and threats to the rule of law in Nigeria.”

Court Adjourns Sowore’s Trial

 

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court has adjourned the trial of Omoyele 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.

READ ALSO: Photos: Omoyele Sowore’s Trial Begins At Federal High Court

This is in addition to what he terms a strange application to shield witnesses in the matter without a prior notification of the defense team.

The prosecutor, Hassan Liman disagrees as he blames the situation on the defense team, accusing them of stalling the trial.

Mr Liman also denies plans to ambush the defense team or engage in any form of secret trial.

Sowore, Co-Defendant Remanded In DSS Custody

 

The convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare have been remanded in the custody of the DSS.

The duo will be remanded in DSS custody pending the hearing of their bail application.

They are being arraigned by the Federal Government on seven charges bordering on an alleged conspiracy to commit treason, money laundering, and insulting the President, among others.

Mr Sowere and his co-defendant were brought to the court on Monday by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Counsel to Sowore and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, is absent in court but Mr Olumide A. is representing Mr Falani while Mr Hassan Liman is the prosecutor on behalf of the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Sowore, Co-Defendant Plead Not Guilty

The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in her ruling on Monday read out the charges to Mr Sowore who is the defendant.

She said the first charge is ‘conspiracy to commit a 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.

“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.”

Charges are being read to the defendants. The first charge is ‘conspiracy to commit a treasonable felony’.

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.

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.

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.”

The next count is the 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.”

He, however, said since his counsel has advised him to enter a plea, it is a not guilty plea.

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.

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.

The sixth count is the transfer of funds contrary to the Money Laundering Act”.

It read, “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”.

Count 7 is the 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”.

However, Justice Ojokwu has fixed Thursday for hearing of their application.

 

Sowore, Co-Defendant Plead Not Guilty

Convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on September 30, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare, have pleaded not guilty to charges filed against them by the Federal Government.

They are being arraigned by the Federal Government on seven charges bordering on an alleged conspiracy to commit treason, money laundering, and insulting the President, among others.

The duo was brought to the court on Monday by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Counsel to Sowore and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, is absent in court but Mr Olumide. A is representing Mr Falani while Mr Hassan Liman is the prosecutor on behalf of the Federal Government.

The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in her ruling on Monday read out the charges to Mr Sowore who is the defendant.

READ ALSO: Sowore, Co-Defendant Remanded In DSS Custody

Sowore, Co-Defendant Plead Not Guilty charge is ‘conspiracy to commit a 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.

“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.”

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.

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.

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.”

The next count is the 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, the USA into a Sahara Bank Account with the aim of concealing the origin of the funds.”

He, however, said since his counsel has advised him to enter a plea, it is a not guilty plea.

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.

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.

The sixth count is the 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.

Count 7 is the 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.

Nobody Should Attempt The ‘Revolution Now’ Protest In Rivers State – Wike

Wike Inaugurates Loan Disbursement Committees

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that nobody should attempt the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest in the state.

Governor Wike said that Rivers State is not part of the RevolutionNow protest and whatever illegal agenda it seeks to pursue.

The Governor said: “Rivers State does not subscribe to what the RevolutionNow protest represents and Rivers State is not part of the protest”.

READ ALSO: Protest Marches Are Not Treasonable Offences In Nigeria, Says Falana

He directed security agencies in the state to arrest anybody involved in the RevolutionNow protest and also take all necessary steps to prosecute such persons.

Governor Wike urged parents to ensure that their children are not misled by agents of the march to participate in the illegal protest.

“All council chairmen are directed to be at alert. If they suspect any illegal gathering, they should report to the security agencies for immediate action “, Governor Wike said.

Sowore Condemns Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War

 

The Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has faulted Nigeria’s current anti-corruption war and promised to end corruption through the use of technology.

Sowore in an interview on Channels Television’s political programme, Roadmap 2019, said there is no corruption war in Nigeria because of political interference and suffers interference by influential individuals.

“The moment you are in APC, you are sanctified, the moment you are out of APC, suddenly your corruption record makes it to the surface, so that tells you there is no war against corruption.

“We are not delivering consequences on corrupt people, the way it should. They are just playing with our minds.

“In the US, even when you are pleading innocence, there has to be documentation, to show that this is what you said and can be made available to the public. We don’t have that here, that is why I’m telling you that the corruption war in Nigeria is a joke,” he said.

READ ALSO: INEC Introduces Electronic, Para-Collation Centres To Track Election Results

Revealing his plans to tackle corruption, Sowore said he will end corruption using technology and digital tools.

“We will use technology to ensure that so many of the things that we are still hard-coding now will be digitalised, including the contracting system. For example, every form that is signed by a public office holder in Nigeria through the code of conduct bureau should be available to the public.

“Everybody that is on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), we should be able to search who has a company in the country. So that, when a contract is awarded to somebody and he has a nine-year-old boy in the board of their company, we can find out immediately.

“If somebody is declaring an asset he doesn’t have, when you download them (the digital information), you will be able to question the person and raise the alarm.”

He also stressed the importance of transparency, noting that one of the best solution to Nigeria’s corruption problem is transparency in all levels of society.

According to him, interference, whether political or individual, cannot help Nigeria’s corruption war.

Roadmap 2019 airs on Mondays at 9:00 pm only on Channels Television.