There was general pandemonium at the FCT High Court after gun-toting operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS), on Friday, re-arrested Omoyele Sowore, Convener, #RevolutionNow Protest, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, shortly after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the day’s proceeding till Feb. 11, Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, 2020 for definite hearing. Eye-witness accounts said Sowore and Bakare resisted being rearrested by the officers of the security outfit, barely 24 hours after they were released on bail prior to today’s hearing.
Justice Ojukwu had, on Thursday, ordered the DSS to release Sowore and Bakare within 24 hours after meeting their bail conditions. Ojukwu, who gave the order, also awarded an N100, 000 fine against the DSS over its refusal to release the two accused as well as the delay to serve the defence counsel with the additional proof of evidence in the ongoing trial despite the court’s order to the effect. The DSS had, on Thursday, complied with the court order by releasing the defendants and also paid the fine.
At Friday’s sitting, the DSS Counsel, Hassan Liman, (SAN), told the court that the security agency had already complied with the order of the court. He also hinted that based on the agreement between the parties, the matter is adjourned till Feb. 11, 12 and 13 to enable the parties to respond to applications filed. Also speaking, Counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana, (SAN), confirmed that his clients were released to him on Thursday evening.
“My Lord, at about 5 o clock yesterday, I received a call from my respected colleague to send our lawyers to receive our clients. I am happy to tell you that our clients were released and the N100, 000 costs was also paid. On account of this, on behalf of our defendants, we wish to express our profound appreciation for your leadership and for standing up for integrity and for standing for the rule of law in Nigeria. I also thank my colleague for impressing it on their client to obey the court order. I hope my learned friend will allow the defendants to get their freedom notwithstanding the charges,” Falana told the court.
Justice Ojukwu, who commended the DSS for obeying the Court order, said everyone must be ready to allow the law to take its course irrespective of position one held. “It is obvious that the DSS has demonstrated their commitment to rule of law. No one is above the law,” adding that those at realms of power must respect the rule of law. The DSS has earned the respect of Nigerians for this,” the judge said. She then adjourned till Feb. 11, 12 and 13 for definite hearing.
But as everyone filed out of the courtroom, no fewer than 15 armed officers of the DSS, who had laid an ambush for the defendants, made their way towards Sowore and Bakare. There was a stampede as the officers cocked their guns forcing people to flee for their lives. Sowore and Bakare, however, resisted being rearrested, and ran back into the courtroom. The development led to the disruption of the court sitting as the judge hurriedly retired to her chamber while the court workers, lawyers, and journalists scampered for safety.
Amidst the commotion that pervaded the courtroom, the officers of the DSS stood their ground on re-arresting the defendants. Sowore, while speaking with the newsmen, in the courtroom, said the ploy of the security agency was to kill him. He said their action had shown that they had no respect for the law, the court and the citizens.
However, after over an hour battle, Sowore and Bakare were led out of the court by his team of lawyers, friends and surrounded by the stern-looking DSS officers. The security agents, who remained adamant on re-arresting him, refused to listen to anyone, including Falana, and they did not give any reason for their action. As Sowore and Bakare walked out of the court premises, the DSS operatives drove their vehicle to accost the defendants but they refused to board the vehicle.
Falana, who was visibly unhappy with the treatment, cautioned them against re-arresting them in the court premises. The human rights lawyer then insisted that if the defendants must follow them, they must go in his car. Sowore and Bakare were later conveyed to the DSS office in Falana’s Lexus Jeep with registration number: ABC 202 HV while the officers escorted them with their vehicles.
Sowore and Bakare were charged on offences of treasonable felony, money laundering, cyber-stalking, terrorism and plots to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, among others. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.