Human rights lawyer , Mr . Femi Falana ( SAN) , on Wednesday , charged the Department of State Services to immediately release the convener of #RevolutionNow protest , Mr . Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare.
He asked the agency to stop exposing Nigeria to ridicule with its ever-changing excuses for continuing to hold on to them in violation of the Federal High Court ’s order for their release.
Falana was replying the DSS’ latest statement issued by its spokesperson, Peter Ifunaya , on Wednesday , when the agency blamed the continued detention of the Sahara Reporters publisher and Bakare on the failure of their sureties to show up to receive them from custody .
The senior lawyer narrated the steps that his legal team had taken to ensure the release of their clients since a bailiff first attempted to serve the court’ s warrants for the release of the two men on the DSS on November 6, 2019 .
He explained that the agency ’s latest excuse that his clients ’ sureties were not available to receive them was baseless , as it was never part of the conditions of the bail granted them by the Federal High Court in Abuja .
He stated , “ Even when five of us were charged with treasonable felony in May 1992 , we were released after we had met the bail conditions.
“ On that occasion , the SSS never asked our sureties to report after they had been verified by the trial court . I demand for nothing less for my clients under the current political dispensation which ought to be anchored on the Rule of Law.
“ Finally , I confirm that I have an official relationship with the DG of SSS.
“ But since the commencement of the case of Sowore and Bakare the DG has refused to pick my calls while I have since become a persona non grata in the office of the SSS.
“ With respect to the baseless allegation that I am playing to the gallery by demanding for the release of my clients in line with the valid and subsisting order of a competent law court I shall take appropriate action under the law.
“ Meanwhile , the SSS should release our clients from illegal custody and should stop exposing the country to unwarranted ridicule . “
He noted that by imposing the condition that the sureties of the two men should be the ones to receive them from custody , the DSS had turned itself to an appellate court.
He warned that by further holding on to the two men in violation of the bail granted them by the Federal High Court, the DSS “ is aggravating the felony of contempt of court by asking sureties who had been verified by the trial court to report in its office for an illegal verification” .
He stated , “ On November 6, 2019 , the bailiff of the Federal High Court wanted to serve the order of the Federal High court for the immediate release of Messrs Omoyele Sowore and Adebayo Bakare on the State Security Service.
“ Under the pretext that the management had closed for the day the court bailiff was asked to serve the order at 10 am on November 7, 2019.
“ In the company with four members of the defence team the Court Bailiff served the order on November 7, 2019 .
“ After the four lawyers had waited in vain for hours the SSS asked them to go and that they would be contacted on phone to pick up the two detainees after consultations . But the SSS never contacted the lawyers .
“ To our utter dismay , the SSS issued an incendiary statement on November 8, 2019 wherein it was claimed that no one had shown up to receive both detainees.
“ Yesterday ( Tuesday ) two members of the defence team , family members and friends of both detainees reported at the headquarters of the SSS. Some journalists were also there to witness the release of both detainees.
“ Instead of releasing both detainees to their lawyers and family members the SSS fired teargassed and shot into the air . In the process, the lawyers , family members and friends of both detainees were physically attacked by masked security operatives.
“ Some of the journalists were seriously injured.
“ Having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that members of the defence team , family members and friends of the two detainees had reported in the headquarters of the SSS to receive them the story has now changed.
“ The SSS has now said that ‘it is only appropriate that those who stood surety for SOWORE present themselves and have him released to them’ .”
He expressed hope that the agency would release Bakare having shown by its statement that they had no axe to grind with him having invited his sureties to receive him .
He added, “ With respect to Mr . Sowore, we wish to state , without any fear of contradiction , that the SSS has apparently constituted itself into an appellate court over the federal high court .
“ For the avoidance of doubt , no condition is attached to the order of the federal high court for the release of both detainees.
“ Therefore , the SSS is aggravating the felony of contempt of court by asking sureties who had been verified by the trial court to report in its office for an illegal verification.
“ In view of the reckless insinuations of the SSS I am compelled to point out that my colleagues and I did not risk our lives for the purpose of substituting military dictatorship for civilian autocracy.
” It is pertinent to point out that suspects who were presumed innocent under the defunct military junta were not exposed to the crude intimidation that has become the lot of Sowore and Bakare .