Counsel to Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, on Friday told the court that President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2003 after he lost election under the defunct ANPP decided to stage protest all over the country and was never arrested or prosecuted, rather he was disbanded by police, who briefed him to go to court to challenge the action.
Falana also stated that current leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, including president Buhari had in 2011, called for the kind of revolution that took place in Egypt, which he said was violent.
He noted that in the instant case, Sowore had specifically warned his followers not to engage in any form of violence but to protest peacefully.
Falana also noted that the only time some youths were arrested for using the term “Revolution” was in 1948 under the colonial era, noting however that they were not charged with treason but with sedition.
Sowore, through his lead counsel, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, argued that FG has failed to give any cogent reason why he should not be released on bail pending his trial.
He argued that since he is presumed innocent by virtue of section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, the onus was on FG to establish why he should remain in detention.
Falana argued that despite the allegation that Sowore planned to overthrow the government of Nigeria by staging a protest tagged RevolutionNow, FG failed to adduce any evidence to substantiate the charge
“We submit that the use of the word Revolution is not a criminal offence in Nigeria and it has never been criminalized. Hence, President Buhari called for a revolution and was never arrested or prosecuted”.
On count-two of the charge that bordered on the allegation that Sowore insulted President Buhari, Falana argued that under the law, no public office is allowed to use the machinery of the state to settle scores with his opponent.
“If the President feels offended by any statement made by the 1st defendant, the only option open to him into sue for libel.
He said the Court of Appeal, in its judgement in 2008, upheld the right of Nigerians to protest against the government without firstly security Police permit. He further argued that the allegation of money laundering was not enough to deny the defendants bail, “when those that stole billions have all been granted bail”.
He argued that whereas Dokubo admitted in his own statement that he was involved in the blowing up of pipelines in the Niger Delta, Sowore never admitted that he committed any offence in his own statement. Falana, therefore, urged the court to grant Sowore bail on self recognizance describing him as “a political leader”.
More so, he drew the attention of the court that Sowore was earlier granted bail on the condition that he would deposit his international passport with the Registrar. Meanwhile, after she had listened to both sides, trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu stood down to rule on the bail applications.
Sowore who is the publisher of an online media platform, Sahara Reporters, was arrested after he called for a nationwide protest against perceived maladministration by the President Buhari-led government.