By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Detained activist and convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate), who are facing a treasonable felony charge, on Wednesday, failed to regain their freedom after they perfected all their bail conditions.
However, a member of their legal team told Vanguard that the Department of State Service, DSS, promised to release them from custody on Thursday.
The lawyer who craved anonymity because he did not seek the permission of his principal to speak to the press on the matter, disclosed that the DSS was served with a duly signed order of the Federal High Court in Abuja directing that the defendants should be released from detention.
The court order, which was signed by trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, indicated that both Sowore and Bakare have fulfilled all their bail terms.
Counsel to the defendants and human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, had earlier on Wednesday, told the court that his clients had met their bail conditions.
Falana, SAN, had expressed optimism that the duo would be freed shortly after the court proceeding.
Sowore who looked emancipated and his co-defendant were ecstatic as they exited the courtroom.
They remained within the court premises, surrounded by operatives of the DSS till around 5 pm when the court signed their release order.
Meanwhile, trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has fixed December 5 and 6 to commence a trial of the defendants on the seven-count charge against them.
The court initially gave the prosecution the nod to call its witnesses after it refused Falana’s request for the case to be adjourned.
Falana had alleged that he was unable to have access to his clients at the detention facility of the DSS.
He said his inability to interact with his clients hampered his opportunity to effectively package their defence.
Justice Ojukwu subsequently deferred the trial till next month to enable the prosecution to serve a statement of its witnesses, video exhibits and all other documents it would rely on to prove the case, on the defendants.
Earlier in the proceeding, Falana raised the alarm over plot to shield the witnesses that are proposed to testify against the defendants.
Sowore who was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election and publisher of an online news outlet, Sahara Reporters, was in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/CR/235/2019, accused of conspiracy, money laundering, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.
The court had in a ruling on October 21, varied some of the conditions it gave for the release of the defendants on bail.
Justice Ojukwu waived the initial requirement for Sowore to deposit N50million as bond before the court, even as she also reduced Bakare’s bail sum from N50m to N30m.
The court, however, retained other conditions that gave Sowore bail to the tune of N100million with two sureties in like sum.
The court had maintained that all the sureties must be resident within the Federal Capital Territory and must own landed properties in Abuja that are worth the total bail sum.
It further directed the sureties to submit the original title deeds of the properties, as well as, their three years tax clearance certificate for verification.
Aside from seizing Sowore’s international passport, the court barred the defendants from participating in any form of protest, pending the determination of the charge.
It will be recalled that Sowore was arrested on August 2, after he called for a nationwide protest against perceived maladministration by the President Buhari-led government.
Despite his arrest, the protest held in various parts of the country on August 5, with security operatives clamping down on some of the participants.