Even as the Department of State Services (DSS), has discounted video footage of its officers invading the Federal High Court, Abuja premises to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore, #RevolutionNow convener and publisher of Sahara Reporters, dismissing the video as video as “mischief for propagandist purposes,” the presidency has come out in support of the brigandage and lawlessness, with presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, arguing that DSS was “only exercising its power” by re-arresting Sowore.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity said in a statement on Sunday that Sowore was not an ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet, but a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections. Shehu said anyone who had followed Sowore’s actions and words would agree he is a person of interest to the DSS.
In the statement titled: “Sowore: Between Fact and Fiction,” Shehu accused Sowore of calling for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria, adding the DSS did not require the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that were laid down in the Nigerian Constitution. He insisted that no government will fold its arms and allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country.
“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America. “He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow,” Shehu said.
“Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating. To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described,” Shehu stressed.
He said Nigeria was already grappling with an insurgency that has killed thousands of people and rendered millions of people homeless in the north-east region of our country courtesy of the war of terror engendered by Boko Haram militants.
The Presidential aide warned that Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives in the name of ‘revolution’, as Sowore is a New York (read New Jersey) resident and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, like the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
On its part, the DSS said the circulation of a video on the attempted re-arrest of Sowore inside a courtroom was a mischief. Dr Peter Afunanya, the DSS Public Relations’ Officer (PRO) in a statement on Sunday in Abuja said the video was meant to serve as propaganda to bring the service to disrepute.
He said the statement was in response to the serial misinformation being circulated in the media on the involvement of the service in the incident that occurred on Dec. 6 at the Federal High Court.
Afunanya said Femi Falana, SAN, Counsel to Sowore had during the court proceeding informed the judge that he was suspicious of a move by the service to rearrest his client. He said the court discountenanced the suspicion, noting that the service was law abiding and would not engage in the act. The PRO said it was on that ground that the court adjourned till February, 2020.
According to him, when Sowore stepped out of the court and sighted operatives of the service within the premises, he ran back into the courtroom. “In a bid to shield him from an imaginary arrest, his uncontrollable supporters mobbed him while chanting “you can’t arrest him”, thus the pandemonium that ensued.
“A critical look at the videos in circulation would convince any objective viewer that there was no DSS personnel during the entire period Sowore crowd acted out its orchestrated drama. DSS personnel were never, at any time, involved in the incident. In actual fact, it was his people who seized him,” he said.
He said reports had shown that the court had adjourned peacefully before suddenly, the unruly crowd imported into the courtroom went into frenzy on suspicion that DSS was sighted at the court premises.
Afunanya said the eventual re-arrest of Sowore was effected outside the courtroom adding that his counsel had affirmed it. According to him, the DSS could not have invaded a courtroom including the one presided over by a respected Judge who is not only handling its case but whose order was unconditionally obeyed within a 24 hour ultimatum. He said the service hold the judiciary in utmost respect and would continue to work with it for national peace and public safety.
In a related development, another aide of President Buhari claimed Sowore faked his supposed re-arrest to make DSS look bad. Lauretta Onochie, infamous for her occasional outbursts against critics of the President said the court arrest was “planned” by Sowore’s “boys and girls.”
“So it was a stage-managed drama in the court yesterday,” Onochie said in a Facebook post. “Sowore pinned down by his supporters in a courtroom in order to give DSS a bad name.” Onochie did not present evidence to prove that Sowore faked his arrest.