The bail application filed by Omoyele Sowore and four others has again suffered a temporary setback.
The application suffered a setback, this time, following the failure of the Nigeria Police Force to produce the defendants in Court.
In an interview with journalists on Friday at the Chief Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, the lawyer to the Defendants, Marshal Abubakar said the Police claim to have handed the case file to a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police for further prosecution.
He explains that the DIG who was called to produce the Defendants claimed to have handed the case file to the Director of Public Prosecution on the instruction of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Sowore and the other defendants are standing trial for alleged criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and inciting public disturbance.
A Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja had earlier on Tuesday fixed today, January 8, for ruling on the bail application filed on behalf of Sowore and four others.
Chief Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello was expected to rule on the bail application today.
The court also on Tuesday ordered the defendants to be remanded at the Force CIID facility in Area 10, following complaints by Sowore that they were denied food and medical attention at the Kuje Correctional Centre.
Although they all pleaded not guilty to the charges, the prosecution alleged that the defendants were arrested on New Year’s eve with placards calling for a violent revolution against President Muhammadu Buhari.
The court then ordered that they be remanded at Kuje Correctional Centre until the formal application for their bail today.
The Coalition of Northern of Group (CNG) has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari government of suffocating oppositions, describing the arrest of Omoyele Sowore as uncalled for.
“To attempt to stop someone from associating freely, from enjoying his right to freedom of association or freedom of movement is totalitarian,” the spokesman of the CNG, Sulaiman Abdulazeez, said on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday. “It is an attempt to suppress voices of dissent. This government has grown increasingly intolerant of opposition or criticism.”
While arguing that Sowore’s arrest is an act of impunity, the CNG spokesperson noted that the incident “is about breaching people’s fundamental human rights; There is no point, the arrest is totally uncalled for.”
Sowore and four others were on Monday remanded at the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, pending when their formal bail application will be heard Tuesday, January 5, 2020.
Although the former presidential candidate and four others are being arraigned by the Federal Government on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others, Sulaiman believes they have not committed any offence to warrant arrest and detention.
“You can only be arrested when you commit an offence and you have to establish an offence first before charging a person,” he insisted.
“We are not aware that there is any statue that has barred people, four people, from coming together for a candlelight celebration. Even if there is, that is ultra vires.”
Although they all pleaded not guilty to the charges, the prosecution alleged that the defendants were arrested with placards calling for a violent revolution against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sowore was arrested by the police for leading a protest against bad governance on New Year’s eve in Abuja.
Police and members of the #RevolutionNow Movement on Thursday were involved in heated brawls following a nationwide protest staged by the group.
The group mainly made up of young persons staged a protest in various states and at the Federal Capital Territory where they went to the United States Embassy expressing their disapproval of the nation’s security situation and the socio-economic crisis.
At the US Consulate in Abuja, they demanded the resignation of the President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that the present administration has not effectively tackled the issues of insecurity, hunger, and corruption in the country.
Under the leadership of their convener, Omoyele Sowore, members of the movement wielded a big banner with the inscription, ‘Buhari has failed,’ and other placards which read, ‘Failed leadership has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world,’ and ‘#RevolutionNow’.
Joining the protest in Abuja were #BringBackOurGirls activist, Aisha Yesufu, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, Henry Shield, Adebayo Raphael, Deji Adeyanju of Concerned Nigerians, among others.
Together, the protesters berated the government, claiming that the present administration has failed to live up to the promises made to Nigerians.
While the protest in Abuja was seemingly hitch-free, the protest in Lagos was met with stiff opposition from the Nigerian Police force, resulting in the brutalization of a journalist.
Men of the police force are said to have attacked Mr. Olukayode Jaiyeola, a Punch photojournalist who was covering the protest stages within the Maryland area of the metropolis.
A police inspector, Mr. Innocent Adadu, used a baton on Jaiyeola’s head causing him to collapse immediately, with blood gushing out of his fractured skull.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, ordered the immediate detention of the inspector who is attached to PMF 22 Ikeja.
The commissioner ordered that Inspector Adadu be tried in order to serve as a deterrent to others who are fond of engaging in unprofessional and unethical conduct.
Channels Television learned the commissioner rushed to the scene and personally moved the injured journalist to the Police Hospital.
While waiting to ensure that the injured journalist was given immediate and best medical treatment, the police boss cut-off all other engagements to stay throughout the journalist’s treatment and subsequent discharge.
Many injured, dozens arrested?
There are claims that beyond the case of the journalist who was severely beaten, many members of the Revolution Now Group who protested on Thursday were injured and dozens were arrested across the country.
In Lagos alone, there are reports suggesting that over 30 persons were arrested, a situation which has stirred another round of protests all over social media.
The reports from Ibadan, Osogbo, Taraba, Benue, Kano, and other states where the protest held, were all the same. Protesters were harassed by security operatives with many getting beat up while others were arrested.
Reacting to the situation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a series of tweets called on the international community and the United Nations Human Rights Office to publicly condemn what it termed ‘violations’.
SERAP also asked the international bodies to hold Nigerian authorities to account for systematic violations of human rights including the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Earlier in the week, the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest announced plans to hold a mass action against poor governance in Nigeria.
According to CORE, the protest scheduled for October 1st was a demonstration to demand the reversal of “anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.”
In its statement on the matter, CORE stated that “These harsh policies that have bored a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems.
“It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism, and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest.”
The group demanded amongst other things the reversal of the hike in the price of petrol from N148 to N151, an end to “state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari” and the sacking of all service chiefs in the country due to their “proven incompetence in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed and is still claiming the life of Nigerians daily.”
Following the cancellation of the Independence Day parade and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 persons by the Lagos State Government, the police had warned against people gathering in the state for protests and rallies.
However, the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest insisted they will hold the mass action, a stand which led the police to storm the rally venues in a bid to disperse the gathering.
On August 5, 2019, the #RevolutionNow protest was first staged and the second edition on the same date this year, held across major cities in the country.
The rather peaceful demonstrations have been met with a clampdown by security operatives, resulting in arrests and incarceration of many protesters.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has revealed that he rejected an offer asking his client Omoyele Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to get released from custody, when the Sahara Reporters publisher was detained in 2019.
Mr Falana in a statement on Thursday stated that he rejected the offer as presented by a government delegation comprising the late Isa Funtua and two others.
According to his statement titled, “On the collapse of secret meetings designed to compromise Omoyele Sowore in custody”, Falana did not only reject the offer, but he also rebuffed a rather ‘condescending’ statement by the late Isa Funtua, who was of the opinion that the regime in power could not be defeated.
“In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation,” the rights activist stated.
Falana further revealed that he also rejected the delegation’s request to have Sowore, who was in detention, to write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the Federal Government.
Below is the full statement as published by Mr Femin Falana.
ON THE COLLAPSE OF SECRET MEETINGS DESIGNED TO COMPROMISE OMOYELE SOWORE IN CUSTODY
In a deliberate attempt to distort the proceedings of the secret meetings held by representatives of media publishers and officials of the presidency with Mr. Omoyele Sowore in the dungeon of the State Security Service last year Mr. Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer.
Since Mr. Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative he said that “The meeting ended well, and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.
The fence-mending process collapsed after the meeting of the trio with the lawyer in Lagos.” Mr. Shehu ought to have published the terms of the “resolution” which he claimed that Mr. Sowore had accepted instead of of blaming the collapse of the “fence-mending process” on the intransigence of his lawyer “whoever that was (sic)”
I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr. Shehu even though he did not mention my name.
Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr. Shehu he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr. Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government.
Apart from insisting that my client had committed no offence by exercising his freedom of expression over the perilous state of the nation I expressed my personal agony over the request because I won the legal battle wherein the Court of Appeal had upheld the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to protest against the government without police permit.
Mr. Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service.
In particular, I recalled the case of Isa Funtua v The President wherein the plaintiff had challenged the obnoxious newspaper registration decree enacted by the Ibrahim Babangida junta in 1993. For goodness sake, is Mr. Shehu not aware of the fact that Mr. Sowore was charged with treasonable felony, money laundering and insulting President Buhari for daring to call off the bluff of the federal government?
It is interesting to note I had teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the restoration of the liberty of Mr. Garba Shehu (who was then the spokesman for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) when he was detained by the State Security Service and charged before the Federal High Court with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.
Happily, the charge filed against Mr. Shehu by the forces of incipient fascism in the country was withdrawn and struck out in his favour. In like manner, the charge of a treasonable felony which is hanging menacingly on the head of Mr. Omoyele Sowore like a sword of Damocles will also be struck out in his favour in the fullness of time.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed March 25, 2020, for the hearing of the N1 billion fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare.
The duo filed their separate suits against the Director-General of the Department of State Service, Yusuf Bichi, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, over their alleged illegal detention, prior to their release in December 2019.
Sowore and Bakare are being prosecuted by the Federal Government on charges of treasonable felony, in November 2019.
Operatives of the DSS arrested Mr Sowore in Lagos on August 2, 2019, and Bakare in Osogbo, Osun State, on August 5, 2019, for organising a protest tagged #RevolutionNow, which the Federal Government alleged was aimed at toppling the regime of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
At the resumed hearing of their fundamental rights enforcement suits, Justice Inyang Ekwo in separate proceedings fixed the hearing of the two suits for March 25 after granting the applications for the regularisation of some processes filed out of time by the parties.
Messrs Sowore and Bakare who were detained in the custody of the DSS from August to December 2019 are demanding N500m damages each in their separate suits.
The applicants also want the court to declare that their arrest without warrant of arrest “is illegal as it violates” their fundamental right ‘to personal liberty’.
The prosecution in the trial of Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare reported told a Federal High Court on Thursday that the Federal Government has paid the N200, 000 cost awarded against it the previous day by the court on grounds of delay.
At the commencement of proceedings on Thursday, lead prosecution, Aminu Alilu, confirmed that the payment was made to the defendants on Wednesday.
Mr Alilu also applied that the amended two counts charge newly filed against the defendants on February 10, 2020, be substituted with the old charges filed on September 20, 2019.
Confirming Mr Alilu’s claim regarding the fine, defence lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, confirmed that the N200, 000 cost was paid to the defence through the bank account of a senior member of the team, Mr Olayinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, on Wednesday.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu admitted the application by Alilu to substitute the previous charge of September 20, 2019, for fresh two-count charges bordering on treasonable felony dated February 10, 2020.
After hearing all sides on Thursday, Justice Ijeoma adjourned the case to the 11th, 12th and 13th of March for definite trial.
“In court, it is Federal Government versus Agba Jalingo, not Cross River State,” Mr Ayade told reporters on Monday at the presidential villa, Abuja, where he went to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He’s in court for treason, a state does not have the power to try anyone for treason, it’s not me.”
Governor Ayade said the arrest and trial of Agba Jalingo are in connection with Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow protest, adding that the journalist left his core profession and began to meddle into politics.
“On his Facebook page, he sent pictures where he was being teargassed at the revolution march in Lagos. His own pictures, posted by himself and when Sowore was being arrested, he went back to his Facebook to post that the revolution has just started, ‘we will continue this battle until revolution works’. He admitted this in Court.
“You are seeing him as a journalist, but he’s not, he’s the chairman of Sowore’s party in Cross River State so he’s a politician. He has a primary calling, which is journalism.
“Once he started the campaign to overthrow the government of President Buhari, he ceased to be seen from the point of a journalist because he has become the state chairman of a party,” Governor Ayade stated.
The governor reiterated that he has been working for Mr. Jalingo’s release from Calabar prison where he has been incarcerated.
Until his arrest, Mr. Jalingo was the publisher of Cross RiverWatch.
He was apprehended was on August 22 allegedly over a report suggesting that Governor Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state, a claim which the government has strongly refuted.
As the year enters its final days, events across Nigeria and the world tend to take a different turn.
So much has been said within the course of the passing, here are some of those comments that give us an idea of what has transpired and leaves us room to project what possibilities await us in the coming week.
1. I wasn’t elected to fight the Executive but to collaborate.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says contrary to popular opinion, the current National Assembly is not a rubber stamp.
2. Nobody should pay N50 charges on POS transactions.
6. The only thing is to thank Nigerians, they made this happen they should not relent.
The convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, thanks Nigerians following his departure from the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS).
7. Wherever there is disorder, you cannot kill corruption.
President of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) Global, Matthew Ashimolowo says that corruption can only be reduced to its barest minimum if there are order and a system that kills the act.
8. Buhari is a democrat, he respects the constitution.
9. The United States itself has a lot to chew solving its own problems not to talk of poke-nosing into another country. Nobody has appointed them the policeman of the world. Let them face their own issue.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina criticizes the United States’ government for placing Nigeria on the Special Watchlist of countries violating religious freedom.
10. I am APC Leader in Edo, Oshiomhole remains suspended.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki insists that suspension of the party’s national chairman Adams Oshiomhole from the state chapter of the party remains and it is in the best interest.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters on Thursday asked the Department of State Service (DSS) and Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to submit a memorandum on the alleged invasion of a Federal High Court within 24 hours.
The Committee also asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Counsel to Omoyele Sowore, Femi Falana, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, and the Office of the Chief Judge of Federal High Court to each submit a memorandum on the incident.
DSS operatives had allegedly invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja to rearrest publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore few hours after he was released on December 6.
Each of the memoranda is expected to detail the events of the day.
Giving the directive, the Committee Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, explained that the panel is unable to hold the scheduled investigative hearing as the Senate suspended all activities in honour of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu who died in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, stated on Monday that the Federal Government will not make unilateral decisions with respect to the release of Omoyele Sowore from the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS).
Mr Malami in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations mister Umar Gwandu said that the government is guided by extant laws and tradition of the law in handling legal matters and related litigations.