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Court Fines DSS N100,000 for Disobeying Orders Tto Release Sowore

Justice Ojukwu also moved the trial till Friday so as to check for compliance with the court order.

The Department Of Security Services has been fined N100,000 for disobeying multiple court orders to release Omoyele Sowore, the detained convener of the #RevolutionNow protest.

This comes as Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court gave the DSS a 24 -hour ultimatum to release Sowore while chiding the DSS for asking the sureties of the accused to come forward after she had signed a release warrant.

Justice Ojukwu accused the DSS of constituting itself into a parallel court and flouting orders hence the N100,000 fine.

The trial of Sowore and his co-accused Oluwale Bakare were due to resume today (Thursday) December 5th at the Federal High Court Abuja, however, the proceeding was stalled after Sowore’s counsel Femi Falana, told the court that the DSS has consistently denied him access to his client.

Femi Falana, Human Rights Lawyer and Counsel to Omoyele Sowore

Following Falana’s plea for an adjournment to enable him prepare his defence, Justice Ojukwu moved the case until Friday for trial and to check for compliance with the court order.

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Falana’s Counter Argument in Court for Sowore Trial

Meanwhile, there was mild drama as some women stripped themselves on the premises of the court in protest of the detention of Sowore.

The women, who tagged themselves “concerned mothers”, were seen holding placards with inscriptions “Sowore is not a criminal”, “respect court order”.

Sowore’s Ordeal

On July 28, 2019, Omoyele Sowore announced his “Revolution Now” nationwide protest billed for August 5th. According to the activist, the rally was to protest the government’s incompetence and mismanagement of resources while demanding a better Nigeria.

DSS officials seen shooting at Free Sowore protesters in Abuja

However, the magnitude and effectiveness of the protest suffered a setback when Sowore was picked up by the Department Of State Services (DSS) in the early hours of August 3rd in Abuja.

The protest which held in Lagos and Osun states saw stiff security clampdown which led to the arrest of many including Sowore’s co-defendant Olawale Bakare.

Following his arrest, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High court on August 8th granted an ex parte application by the DSS to detain Sowore for 45 days to enable the agency conduct investigations.

On August 24th, Sowore was officially charged with treasonable Felony, insulting President Mohammadu Buhari, disturbing public peace and six counts of money laundering.

At the expiration of the 45 days detention sought by the DSS, Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered Sowore’s release. This order was not obeyed by the DSS as Sowore remained in custody till his arraignment on September 30th.

Sowore pleaded Not Guilty to all the charges brought against him. After taking a plea, the #RevolutionNow convener was once again granted bail on October 4th by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High court to the tune of N100 naira and two sureties with one surety depositing N50million naira.

The bail condition was considered too stringent leading Justice Ojukwu on October 21 to vary the conditions by waiving the earlier requirement that his surety should deposit N50m as security.

Omoyele Sowore’s trial had begun on November 6th but preliminary objections stalled the process causing Justice Ojukwu to adjourn trial date to December 5th while ordering DSS to release the activist.

Sowore still in detention against court order

Despite the court order granting Sowore bail, he was still held by the DSS for different reasons. His fellow comrade Deji Adeyanju has led many protests to the Department of State services calling for Sowore’s release while several rallies have been organised by his supporters in the United States and the United Kingdom advocating for his freedom.

Meanwhile, the DSS caused public outrage following a press conference where Spokesperson for the agency, Peter Afunanya, said Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), was yet to come fetch him from their facility. 

Afunanya said, “We cannot just release Sowore and ask him to go because he may be knocked down by a vehicle at the gate.”

These actions by the DSS led Justice Ijoema Ojukwu of the Federal High court on December 5 to fine the body N100,000 while ordering Sowore’s immediate release.