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Updated: Court fines DSS N100,000, orders release of Sowore in 24 hours

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Sowore, SERAP, archbishop

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

Trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, gave the Department of State Service, DSS, 24 hours to release detained pro-democracy activist and convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate).

Justice Ojukwu expressed her anger over continued detention of the defendants by DSS in disobedience to an express order of the court that they should be released on bail pending the determination of treasonable felony charge the Federal Government preferred against them.

Consequently, she awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the DSS, stressing that prosecution of the defendants would not proceed until the fine is paid.

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The court fixed Friday to resume hearing on the seven-count treasonable felony charge 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.

Trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had in a ruling on October 21, varied some of the conditions it gave for the release of the defendants on bail.

However, though the defendants had since perfected their bail conditions, the DSS declined to release them on the premise that no surety came forward to receive them.

Aside initiating a contempt of court proceeding against the Director General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi, the defendants also filed a N1billion suit against him and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleging gross violation of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.

In separate fundamental rights enforcement suits, the defendants maintained that they are entitled to general and aggravated damages of N500million each as a result of violations of their rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, family life, freedom of association and freedom of movement.

They further prayed the court to compel the two respondents to issue a public apology to them that will be published in five national dailies.

DSS had in a fresh application it brought before the court, sought leave to transfer the defendants to a correctional facility.

VANGUARD

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