The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Friday granted Omoyele Sowore, convener of the nationwide #RevolutionNow protests and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, bail. The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu imposed a N100 million bail on Sowore, with two sureties in a like sum. Bakare got a N50 million bail. Ojukwu ordered that the duo be remanded in prison custody until fulfilment of the bail conditions. They have also been prohibited from addressing the press until completion of the trial. Nigeria’s secret police have been holding Sowore since his arrest August 3, 2019.
He has being in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since his arrest for calling a nationwide demonstration against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. He was formally charged to court September by the federal government for treasonable felony, cyber-stalking and money laundering.
Prior to re-arraignment, a federal high court sitting in Abuja presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo in September ordered the immediate release of Sowore. The judge ruled that there was no extant order allowing Sowore’s further detention before the court after the expiration of the 45 days it granted DSS to detain him. “The order of court has expired. It has not been renewed and cannot be renewed in view of the motion ex-parte earlier withdrawn,” the judge said at that time.
Despite the court order, Sowore remained in DSS custody. The Nigerian government filed additional charges against Sowore on Friday, September 20, a day before the completion of the initial 45 days the court allowed the DSS to keep him in custody.
Subsequently, he was re-arraigned on Monday, September 30, 2019, by the DSS on a 7-count charge bothering on treasonable felony, cyber-stalking and transfer of illicit funds. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. His defence lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, urged the court to allow Sowore to be allowed to continue with the bail earlier granted him by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, on September 24 and Bakare be granted fresh bail.
But the judge said the bail earlier granted Sowore was not predicated on the charges on which he was arraigned on Monday, and a fresh bail application had to be filed. Justice Ojukwu added that if she would have to grant the accused persons fresh bail, it would be based on a written formal bail application and not oral. She directed their legal counsels to file formal bail applications, hence, the bail application granted today.