Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Few hours after the Abuja division of the Federal High Court gave the Department of State Service (DSS) a-24 hour ultimatum to release detained pro-democracy activist and convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, aka Mandate, the agency has complied.
Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu, who gave the order yesterday, was irked by the continued detention of the defendants by DSS in flagrant disobedience to an express order of the court that they should be released on bail pending the determination of the charge of treasonable felony brought against them by charge the Federal Government
Ojokwu awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the DSS, warning that prosecution of the defendants would not proceed until the fine is paid.
However, the DSS has brought an application for an order of court transferring the defendants to a correctional facility.
The court has fixed Friday to resume hearing on the seven-count treasonable felony charge against the defendants.
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.
Ojukwu had, in a ruling on October 21, varied some of the conditions it gave for the release of the defendants on bail. 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 initiating a contempt of court proceeding against the Director General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi, the defendants also filed a N1billion suit against him and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advance of Nigeria (SAN), alleging gross violation of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
In their 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, dignity of 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.
Meanwhile, a group of women protested in front of the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, demanding the immediate release of Sowore and Bakare.
The women, numbering about 30, were in white wrappers and brassier with no clothes covering the upper parts of their bodies. They asked the DSS to release their son, Sowore.
They were believed to be from Sowore’s village, in Kiribo, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State. The protesting women arrived the court yesterday but were not allowed entry into the court premises.
They stayed at the gate brandishing placards with various inscriptions calling for Sowore’s release. They departed long after the proceedings had ended.
Many of the aged women with grey hair, speaking in their Apoi dialect, appealed to President Buhari to release their son from custody.