By ‘Kunle ADEBAJO
SENIOR Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said his legal team, representing Publisher of Sahara Reporters and Convener of the Revolution Now protests, Omoyele Sowore, will file contempt charges against the Department of State Services (DSS) on Tuesday.
In an interview with Channels TV on Monday, the human rights lawyer said the aim of the contempt proceedings is to compel the DSS Director-General, Yusuf Bichi, to justify in court why the agency has disobeyed orders directing that his client be released.
“And if he is unable to release them, what the law requires is that he should be sent to prison because nobody is above the law in Nigeria. We either run the government under the rule of law or under martial law,” he added.
Falana also said the DSS is prepared to release Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.
“I was reliably informed last night by a security official that the government is currently fishing for evidence,” he said.
“An attempt is being made to file a fresh charge on Tuesday so that there will be an excuse that ‘we are arraigning them in court, hence we are unable to release them’. If you recall, that was what was done when Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted Mr Sowore bail on the 24th of September. For a whole week, the order of the court was flouted. And then, of course, on the 30th he was arraigned together with Mr Bakare.
“We are ready for them,” he maintained. Asides the contempt proceedings, Falana said his legal team also has plans to file an application under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules to challenge “the illegal detention of Mr Sowore a week before an illegal order was procured to detain him for 45 days”.
Rights activist and convener of the Concerned Nigerians group has said he would lead a delegation to the DSS headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday “to receive both Sowore and Bakare”.
“Despite the embarrassing and unprofessional statement credited to the DSS, Nigerians, comprising activists, lawyers, families, friends and other citizens came out on Saturday morning to receive the duo. As expected but quite unfortunate, the DSS yet again failed to release them, under the excuse that we came on a weekend,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Timeline of Omoyele Sowore’s arrest and detention:
August 1: Sowore announces plan for a nationwide protest to take place on August 5 in 21 states.
August 2: At about 11 pm, Sowore is arrested by DSS operatives.
August 8: Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court grants DSS’s request to detain Sowore for 45 days.
August 28: Vacation judge, Justice Nkeonye Maha, declines to grant Sowore’s motion challenging 45-day detention.
September 16: Sowore applies again for bail.
September 21: Federal government files charges against Sowore including allegations of treasonable felony, insulting the president, and money laundering.
September 24: Justice Taiwo grants Sowore’s bail application.
September 26: Federal High Court insists on Sowore’s release, threatens to hold DSS DG in contempt.
September 30: Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu orders that Sowore, co-defendant be remanded in DSS custody after pleading not guilty to seven counts of treason, cyberstalking, insulting the president, money laundering, etc.
October 4: Justice Ojukwu grants bail to Sowore in the sum of N100 million and two sureties.
November 6: Falana says Sowore has met bail conditions and should be released that day.
November 8: DSS says it has received court order to release Sowore but “no person has turned up … to take delivery of him.”