Godwin Tsa, Abuja And Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare were yesterday re-arrested in a dramatic fashion by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) shortly after the proceedings before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
The duo were only released on Thursday evening following the order of Justice Ojukwu that they should be released within 24 hours from the DSS custody. The judge was irked that the defendants who had perfected their bail conditions since last month were still held in custody. Early signs to this development manifested when about 15 armed operatives of the DSS invaded the courtroom to effect the arrest. They were re-arrested after the close of yesterday’s proceedings, after the judge had adjourned till February 11, 2020. Sowore despite being dragged managed to get back into the court with the operatives following behind thereby disrupting proceedings. The ensuing commotion led to a stampede, as he with his supporters tried to resist the security operatives. Lawyers and journalists were locked out of the court, as the security men threatened to seize and destroy phones and cameras of journalists.
Consequently, court proceedings in other cases were disrupted as the judge abruptly suspended sitting, directing that the rest of the cases on her list for the day should be adjourned. Though lawyers and supporters of the defendants tried to resist their arrest, the armed operatives of the DSS bundled Sowore and Bakare out of the court premises in a commando style, and whisked them away.
Speaking on the development, Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), told our correspondent that lawyers in his team had attempted to meet with the #RevolutionNow protest convener in custody, but were not allowed. Meanwhile, outside the court complex, a group of protesters under the aegis of Guardian of Democracy Initiative booed Sowore upon his arrival in court demanding for his prosecution. Carrying placards and chanting anti-revolution now songs, the group demanded that Sowore must be prosecuted for trying to, ‘destabilise the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria’.
Addressing newsmen at the court premises, the leader of the group, Mr. Danesi Momoh, declared support for the DSS for arresting Sowore and members of his group. He said that they were in court to support the Nigeria constitution, stressing that Sowore must not be allowed to trigger any form of insecurity in Nigeria. He cautioned that the only constitutional means of removing a government or taking over power was through the ballot box and not through revolutions.
On his part, Olayemi Success of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations said that the protest was a peaceful one to demand the speedy prosecution of Sowore. He said that there was every need to protect Nigerians from actions capable of destabilising it to ensure that peace and developments continue to thrive. He condemned in totality the call for revolution by Sowore and called on the judiciary to fast-track his prosecution.