The Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), has ordered the State Security Service to hands off the prosecution of Omoyele Sowore in the charge of treasonable felony against him at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The move according to the AGF is to demonstrate government’s commitment to respect of the rule of law and fundamental rights of citizens.
“The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon a further review of the case, has directed the immediate takeover of the prosecution of all charges in respect of Omoyole Sowore by the Federal Ministry of Justice, in line with the provisions of Sections 150(1) and 174 (1) (a-c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),” Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu said in a statement on Friday.
Sowore alongside Olawale Bakare are standing trial on alleged treasonable felony, money laundering amongst other charges. They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of N100m and N30m respectively. However, the re-arrest of Sowore last Friday at the Federal High Court Abuja, has attracted strong condemnation against the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
While the government on Wednesday disclosed that it had set up machinery to investigate the matter, the statement by Dr. Gwandu, said the move to take over the case from the DSS was to ensure speedy completion of the case. The statement referred to a December 11, 2019 letter sent on behalf of the AGF by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Apata (SAN), to the Director-General of DSS, Yusuf Bichi, directing the security agency to “promptly forward all the case files” to the AGF office.
The letter by Apata, who doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, was a response to a September 9, 2019 letter sent to the AGF. “As part of deliberate efforts to probe emerging issues related to the recent imbroglio related to Omoyele Sowore’s case and for speedy dispensation of justice, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice has requested that the case file in respect of charge pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja be forwarded to his office”, the statement read in part.
Sowore has been illegally detained since August after two court orders granted him bail. He was briefly released by the secret police last Thursday but was re-arrested less than 24 hours later without any arrest warrant. But the Nigerian government said Sowore is a “person of interest” to the DSS because he called for “a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.”
The “Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said that the Federal Government is committed to respecting the sanctity of the rule of law, protecting the virtues of human rights and ensuring speedy dispensation of justice,” the statement noted.