Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) said it is not within his powers to unilaterally ask the Department of State Service to release Omoyele Sowore from custody without recourse to the court.
The minister explained that since the charge of treasonable felony against the convener of the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare is pending before the court, he cannot singlehandedly ordered his release from the custody of the DSS.
This is contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, who stated that Malami was reacting to “the claim that a lawyer sent a letter to the AGF requesting the release of Mr. Sowore.”
Counsel to Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had on Friday written to the AGF demanding the release of his client from the custody of the DSS.
Falana’s letter dated December 13, 2019, followed the announcement by the AGF office that it had taken over the prosecution of the Sahara Reporters’ publisher and Bakare from the DSS.
The AGF’s takeover of the case was informed by the widely condemned invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the operatives of the DSS to re-arrest Sowore on December 6.
Falana who heads the defence team of the two men informed Malami that Sowore had, since his re-arrest on December 6, been kept in the DSS custody without the backing of any detention order of court or arrest warrant.
He stated that his letter became necessary after two lawyers in the team visited the DSS headquarters in Abuja to demand Sowore’s release but were advised to direct their request to Malami.
But Malami in the statement issued om Monday by Gwandu said: “When parties submit their issues for determination to a court of law, they lack exclusivity of decision over such issues without recourse to the court.
“We remain guided by the established tradition and will not take unilateral decision without recourse to the rule of law,” he added.
The same court, the Federal High Court in Abuja, where Sowore and Bakare were charged, had granted bail to the two men.
But the order for the release of Sowore was snubbed by the secret police organisation whose operatives’ violently re-arrested him barely 24 hours of releasing him from detention that lasted over four months.
The two men were arrested over their call for ‘RevolutionNow’ protests with the DSS accusing them of attempting to overthrow the regime of the President Muhammadu Buhari.