• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
businessday logo


Update: DSS rearrests Sowore, Bakare

The operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) rearrested Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, Friday morning.
This was after an hour of resistance by Sowore and Bakare. A mild drama had played out before the rearrest at the premises of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Immediately after adjournment, DSS had swooped on Sowore and Bakare few yards from court 7, where Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was presiding. She wasted no time to retreat to her chambers without uttering any word.
However, surrounded by supporters, Sowore and Bakare refused to come out. It was after an hour that Sowore emerged from the court shaded by hoods of suppoter, preventing security operatives from gaining access to him.
But eventually, Sowore was taken away at the gate of the Federal High Court after he was brought down from the court by his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).
Sowore and Bakare were driven along with their lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, in Falana’s car which was driven by a DSS operative.
Earlier, when the case was called, the prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman, had told the court, that Thursday court order to release Sowore was complied wit.
This was confirmed by Falana, who told the court that Sowore was released around 7.15 pm on Thursday.
On the agreement of counsel, the court adjourned till February 11, 12, 13, 2020 for commencement of trial.
It is not immediately known why the secret police rearrested Sowore, less than the 20 hours he was freed from its custody.
The security agency had complied with the directive few hours after the court gave them 24 hours to release Sowore and Bakare, who had been in their custody despite their release on bail.
Justice Ojukwu had Thursday morning expressed great reservation over the refusal of the Department of State Service (DSS) to release Sowore and Bakare.
Justice Ojukwu subsequently ordered that the defendants be released within the next 24 hours and adjourned to Friday November 6 for report of compliance.
It would be recalled that DSS lawyer,  Liman (SAN) while speaking with newsmen shortly after the court session Thursday morning had assured that his client would comply with the order of the court.
“I want to say once again that the DSS has not at any time refused or failed to comply with the court order. What we have done today is to go a step further to say that the DSS does no longer want Mr. Sowore in their cusutody. That is what we are saying.
“Definitely when somebody is granted bail he will be released to the  main person that has served as his surety. Nobody, I repeat has gone to the DSS to take Mr. Sowore and co. on bail.
“The court has made an order to release them forthwith. But the DSS has not at anytime, refused to comply with court order. And that is why the DSS filed an application today that they no longer want them in their custody.
“The court has adjourned till tomorrow (Friday) for us to report whether or not that order has been complied with. But I still say there has not been any violation of court order. He will be released definitely.
“In terms of court order and the conditions of bail, when you come tomorrow you will know if that has been complied with. I still say there has not been any violation of court order”, Liman had said.
Sowore, the publisher of Sahara reporter and his co-defendant are facing a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, money laundering and cybercrimes amongst others.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail on October 4, in the sum of N100m and N50m respectively with two sureties in like sum.
For Sowore, one of the sureties according to the judge must deposit the sum of N50m cash as security for the bail.
However, the court had two weeks later varied the bail conditions following a request to that effect.
Justice Ojukwu had signed the release of the bail of the defendants after they met the bail conditions.
But the DSS had refused to released the defendants even after evidence that they have met the conditions attached to the bail.
However at the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Ojukwu was infuriated that her order on the release of the defendants was yet to be obeyed.
Falana (SAN) had complained to the court that its order as regards release of documents and the defendants who have been granted bail and have met the attached conditions has not been complied with by the prosecution.
Falana, who told Justice Ojukwu that one month after the court ordered service of documents to be tendered on the defence, the prosecution only served the defence the documents yesterday and hence would be needing time to study the documents as well as watch the attached videos with the defendants.
He also prayed the court to direct the prosecution to serve the full statements of all listed witnesses instead of a summary statement to aid their defence.
The defendants lawyer further told the court that he was having difficulty gaining access to his client who is still in custody of the prosecution despite meeting his bail conditions.


Felix Omohomhion, Abuja