Sowore: US raises concern, warns against anti-democratic actions

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Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday, refuted the Department of State Services’ claim that its operatives did not disrupt proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in their bid to re-arrest his client, Mr Omoyele Sowore, on Friday.

The DSS had, on Saturday, said the circulation of a video clip on an attempt to re-arrest Sowore in the courtroom was a product of mischief.

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He said, “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.”

He stated, “By the advantage of information technology, the whole world has placed responsibility for the gangsteric desecration of the court on the DSS.

“As soon as the case was adjourned, the DSS pounced on Sowore and caused a disruption of the proceedings of the court.

“When the lead prosecutor, Dr Liman Hassan (SAN), denied knowledge of the invasion of her court, she directed him to invite the head of the DSS team.

“The judge then directed the officer to withdraw the DSS operatives from the courtroom.

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“We equally call for the release of all other political detainees and criminal suspects, who have been admitted to bail, pending trial by competent courts.”

Pointing out contradictions in the DSS statement, Falana noted that while the agency argued in one breath that “the arrest of Sowore was ‘stage-managed’ by his supporters in order to give the service a bad name, it admitted in another “that officers of the service arrested Sowore outside the court.”

He noted that the DSS operatives involved in Friday’s incident, including the one seen to be seizing and pinning down Sowore, were identifiable.

“It is utter poor reasoning to say that Sowore’s supporters were also those bent on injuring him in order to arrest him.

He noted that “Before submitting himself for arrest, Sowore had rightly demanded a warrant of arrest and a detention order, but the DSS operatives were unable to produce either.”

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“Thereafter, I requested a meeting with the head of the DSS, but I was informed that he was not in the office.”

Faulting the DSS’ self-adulation as “a law-abiding institution,” Falana asked, “But why did it refuse to comply with the order of Justice Taiwo to release Sowore?

“Why did the DSS wait for the 24-hour ultimatum issued by the trial judge before releasing Sowore and Bakare?”

When contacted on Sunday, Afunnaya insisted that the DSS position stated in its press statement on Saturday was the true reflection of what transpired on Friday.

The DSS had also defied the court order that granted them bail, even after meeting their bail conditions, in spite of several appeals and protests to secure their release.

Respect for judicial independence, key tenet of democracy

The US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour in a tweet on Saturday evening advised the Federal Government to respect the rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, saying they represented the key tenets of democracy.

It said, “If there is any sign that the country has slipped into the abyss of totalitarian rule, it is the unfortunate statement by the Presidency on Sowore.”

It argued that a man calling for a revolution against a government that came out of an election he (Sowore) contested and lost was not just a citizen expressing his freedom.

It stated that no government would fold its arms and allow a country it had a duty to safeguard to be brought down by someone the Presidency said went outside the bounds of activism.

“Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

“No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilisation in the country and do nothing.”

“He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran and lost as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress in the February 23 general elections.

The Presidency also said anyone who had a problem with DSS should approach the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association, on Sunday denied a statement attributed to it through its Twitter handle, calling for Buhari’s impeachment in the aftermath of the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the operatives of the DSS.

The All Progressives Congress asked the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to apologise for lying to Nigerians over Sowore’s re-arrest.

“The PDP and Atiku, in their dubious attempt at painting the APC government bad by all means, have chosen to exercise no restraint whatsoever in spreading falsehood. We would continue to reiterate the need for Nigerians to be wary of these people who are bent on bringing our country down.”

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