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Sowore not a terrorist, coup plotter – Falana to FG



A rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has flayed the Federal Government for comparing the Convener of #RevolutionNowgroup, Omoyele Sowore, with the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group, saying it is highly contemptuous.

Falana told the government that Sowore is neither a terrorist nor coup plotter.

He also said that tactics adopted by the Federal Government and the Department of State Services (DSS), show that the government is not ready for the prosecution of his client, Omoyele Sowore, who was rearrested last Friday by the secret service.

He made the disclosure while reacting to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday, in which Sowore was compared with the Boko Haram terrorist group.

According to Falana, it is highly unprofessional for the president’s aide to subject a man who is held incommunicado to scurrilous attacks in the media.

He added that Sowore will surely have a right of reply once the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people are restored because he is not among the well-known merchants of violence and coup plotters that had successfully but illegally removed democratically-elected governments in Nigeria.

Falana stated that comparing Sowore’s call for revolution with Boko Haram insurgency was an attempt to charge the activist with terrorism.

His words: “The link is a justification for the planned arraignment of Sowore for terrorism.

“Since it is common knowledge that Sowore and Olawale Bakare are not among the well-known merchants of violence and coup plotters that had successfully but illegally removed democratically elected governments in Nigeria, we are not going to join issues with Mr. Garba Shehu over the highly contemptuous statements credited to him.

“But as a senior journalist, Mr. Shehu ought to have known that it is highly unprofessional to subject a man who is held incommunicado to scurrilous attacks in the media. We are, however, convinced that Sowore will have a right of reply once the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people are restored.”

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He also decried the media trial of Sowore by the Federal Government.

“Even though the Federal Government has failed to engage in the diligent prosecution of the serious case, the presidency has resorted to media trial while the charge of treasonable felony is allowed to hang menacingly on the heads of our clients.

“We are, however, not going to be tempted to join issues with the presidency over a case that is pending before a properly constituted court of law. If the presidency is so sure that our clients committed treasonable felony or any other offence whatsoever, it should keep its powder dry and advise the prosecution to commence the trial without any further delay,” the silk said.

The president’s aide had, in a statement on Sunday, dismissed insinuations in the media about government’s complicity in the re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS, saying no government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

Shehu said the DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution.

Meanwhile, speaking in Lagos at the public presentation of the third edition of Compendium of High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria put together by the Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) Falana said Sowore became the target of attack because of his status as a publisher of a widely accepted online medium, Sahara Reporters, that is in the business of exposing corruption within the ruling class, adding that his client had not committed any offence, which explains why the prosecution had not been able to submit their witnesses’ statements for the commencement of trial.

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He said: “Government has not shown any readiness to prosecuting him. If you recall, we were told that Sowore went to Dubai to collect millions of dollars to overthrow the government. But the government discovered that Sowore has never been to Dubai before and that aspect collapsed like a pack of cards.

“I have not seen any indication to show that they are ready to prosecute him. All the government is doing is to embark on media trial without leading evidence in court.

“You also have to examine the fact that at the time Sowore is harassed, you also have the Hate Speech and the Anti-Social Media bill going on, they are all linked. The whole idea is to cow Nigerians into submission so that nobody is in a position to criticise the government.”

The compendium, which consists of pending 100 corruption cases of prominent Nigerians before the judiciary, was researched and published to document and assist the public, the media and researchers with information for easy reference.

In his review of the compendium, Mr. Adeola Soetan, said HEDA published an ugly diary that the ruling elite will hate to see, adding that the report covers corruption cases in all the sectors of the country.

On his part, the Executive Director of HEDA, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, who was represented by Mr. Sina Odugbemi, said the motive of the compendium, which was done with support from the MacArthur Foundation, was to ensure that justice is administered swiftly on those who steal from public coffers