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Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Sowore kicks against transfer to Correctional Facility



Sowore kicks as DSS applies to transfer him to Correctional Facility
Detained pro-democracy activist and convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, has opposed a fresh application the Department of State Service, DSS, filed to secure a leave of the Federal High Court in Abuja to transfer him to a Correctional Facility.
Sowore, who has been in detention since August 2 when he was arrested in Lagos and subsequently transferred him to Abuja for prosecution, accused the security agency of deliberately frustrating the execution of the court order that granted bail to him and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate), pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge against them.
The duo, in a preliminary objection they filed through their lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, described the application to hand them over to the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, as “frivolous, vexatious and contemptuous abuse of the judicial process”.
They hinged their objection to the request on sections 6(6) (b),  35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
According to them,  “The application was filed by the Complainant/Applicant to frustrate the execution of the order of release of the 1st and 2nd Defendants/Objectors from the custody of the State Security Service made by this Honourable Court on the 6th November 2019.
“There is no genuine intention to prosecute the 1st and 2nd Defendants by the Complainant/Applicant as the statement of witnesses this Honourable Court ordered to be availed the Defence team is yet to be issued and served.
“The grounds upon which the Complainant’s/Applicant’s application is hinged are frivolous, vexatious, contemptuous, manifestly unarguable and unknown to law”.
In a supporting affidavit that was deposed to by Marshal Abubakar, a lawyer in Falana’s law chamber, he chronicled how the DSS allegedly thwarted efforts to secure the release of the defendants from detention.
He told the court that the agency had at a point, claimed that Sowore would be knocked down by a vehicle if released from custody.
He averred: “That on the 6th November 2019, this Honourable Court ordered for the release of the Defendants/Objectors upon their satisfactorily meeting the bail condition. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT A is a Copy of the Release orders.
“That on the 6th November 2019, a bailiff of this Honourable Court; Nomkpo Kenter and I were at the Headquarters of the State Security Service to effect service of the release orders and demand for the release of the Defendants/Objectors but we were asked to come back the next day.
“That on the 7th November 2019, me, a bailiff of this Honourable Court; Nomkpo Kenter and two other members of the legal team, to wit, Mssr. Stanley Imhanruonor, and Mssr. Inibehe Effiong was at the Headquarters of the State Security Service to serve the release order and demand for the release of the Defendants/Objectors but after the bailiff was subjected to grueling questioning by officials of the State Security Service, he was asked to go and that they would call him back whenever they are ready to release the Defendants/Objectors.
“That I and the two other members of the legal team, to wit, Mssr. Stanley Imhanruonor and Mssr. Inibehe Effiong demanded the release of the Defendants/Objectors in line with the Order of release which had already been served on the State Security Service but we were asked to go and that they would call us back whenever they are ready to release the Defendants/Objectors.
“That on the 7th November 2019, officials of the State Security Service approached the bail Unit of this Honourable Court, menacingly demanding for the identity of the persons that stood surety for the Defendants/Objectors herein.
“That on the 8th November 2019, the spokesman of the State Security Service, Dr. Peter Afunanya in a press statement acknowledged receipt of the release order but claimed that ‘no person has turned up at the DSS to take delivery of’ the Defendants/Objectors. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT B is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That on September 24, 2019, this Honourable Court per Hon. Justice Taiwo Taiwo had ordered for the release of the 1st Defendant/Objector to his lead Counsel Mr. Femi Falana, SAN who was required to produce him for trial but the State Security Service characteristically failed to comply with the said order of release. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT C is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That on November 9, 2019, myself, some friends, family members and associates of the Defendants/Objectors were at the Headquarters of the State Security Service to receive the Defendants/Objectors herein in response to the claim of the spokesman of the State Security Service in EXHIBIT B above but the State Security Service still failed to release the Defendants/Objectors. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT D is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That on November 14, 2019, officials of the State Security Service approached the bail unit of this Honourable Court again demanding that the sureties of the Defendants/Objectorsbe mandated to come to the Headquarters of the State Security Service but they were told by officials of the bail unit that the State Security Service as a security agency cannot verify court-approved sureties.
“That rather than releasing the Defendants/Objectors, the spokesman of the State Security Service released another press statement, stating that the Court approved sureties must come to its office for verification before the said orders would be complied with. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT E is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That on November 19, 2019, about 12.00 hours GMT the Spokesman of the State Security Service; Peter Afunnanya called another press briefing wherein he stated that the reason the Complainant has not released the 1st Defendants/Objectors is that he might be knocked down by vehicle if released to go. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT F is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That on the 19th of November, 2019, at about 14. 20 Hrs. GMT, I accompanied lead Counsel to the Defendants/Objectors; Mr. Femi Falana, SAN to the headquarters of the State Security Service and Mr. Femi Falana, SAN in view of the concerns raised in EXHIBIT E supra offered to ferry the Defendants/Objectors out of the premises of the State Security Service but  the officials of the service declined the offer. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT G is a news report confirming the assertion.
“That Mr. Femi Falana, SAN further availed officials of the State Security Service including the acting Director Legal Service, the Director of Operations, the 1st and 2nd Defendants/Objectors respectively with copies of the release order dated 6th November 2019 and he informed them that the said order of release did not empower the State Security Service to verify the Court sanctioned sureties.
“That on the 12th November 2019, this Honourable Court issued a notice of Consequence of disobedience of Court order against the Director-General of the State Security Service for failing to release the Defendants/Objectors as ordered by this Honourable Court.
“That on the 25th November 2019, a bailiff of this Honourable Court served the said Notice of Consequence of disobedience of Court Order. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT G is a document confirming the assertion.
“That the Defendants/Objectors having perfected their bail conditions and an order for their release having been made, the application of the Complainant/Applicant seeking to further detain the Defendants/Objectors in a correctional facility is a contemptuous abuse of judicial process that is meant to overreach the Defendants/Objectors herein.
“That this Honourable Court of Justice ought to dismiss the said application by ordering the immediate release of the Defendants/Objectors herein and in doing so award damages to be personally paid by counsel to the Complainant/Applicant to the Defendants/Objectors.”
Both Sowore and Bakare are facing a seven-count treasonable felony charge that was preferred against them by the Federal Government.
Sowore, who was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election and publisher of an online news outlet, Sahara Reporters, was in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/CR/235/2019, accused of conspiracy, money laundering, cyber-stalking, and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had in a ruling on October 21, varied some of the conditions it gave for the release of the defendants on bail.
However, though the defendants had since perfected their bail conditions, the DSS declined to release them on the premise that no surety came forward to receive them.
Aside from initiating contempt of court proceeding against the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi, the defendants also filed an N1billion suit against him and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleging the gross violation of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
In separate fundamental rights enforcement suits, the defendants maintained that they are entitled to general and aggravated damages of N500million each as a result of violations of their rights to personal liberty, the dignity of a person, fair hearing, family life, freedom of association and freedom of movement.
They further prayed the court to compel the two respondents to issue a public apology to them that will be published in five national dailies.

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