By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Monday, said the Federal Government would be guided by extant laws in the way it would handle the case of detained pro-democracy activist and convener of the RevolutionNow Protest, Omoyele Sowore.
Malami, who had last Friday, directed the Department of State Service, DSS, to hands-off Sowore’s trial and transfer his case-file to his office, said he would not take any “unilateral decision” with respect to the matter.
He made his position known via a statement that was signed and released to newsmen by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu.
According to the statement, Malami’s response was sequel to query from the media on claim that Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, wrote to him, requesting for the release of his client from detention.
Malami was quoted to have responded, “When parties submit their issues for determination to a court of law, they lack exclusivity of decision over such issues without recourse to court.”
He was also quoted to have re-affirmed that FG would “remain guided by the established tradition and will not take unilateral decision without recourse to the rule of law.”
Sowore’s lawyer had reportedly written to the AGF, urging him to direct the DSS to release his client from its custody.
Falana said the letter dated December 13, became necessary after two lawyers in his team visited the DSS headquarters in Abuja to demand Sowore’s release but were advised to direct their request to the AGF.
The said letter titled, ‘Request for the release of Omoyele Sowore from illegal custody’, read, in part: “Following the announcement of your decision to take over the case of the Federal Republic of Nigeria V Omoyele Sowore and another, two members of the legal defence team visited the headquarters of the State Security Service on December 13, 2019 to demand the immediate release of Sowore from illegal custody.
“Our colleagues were however advised to direct the request to your office in view of the fact that you have taken over the case from the State Security Service.
“In the light of the foregoing, we hereby request you to use your good offices to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore from custody in line with the order of the Federal High Court admitting him to bail pending trial. We are confident that you will not hesitate to grant our request as no court has issued any remand order for his detention.”
It will be recalled that the DSS had on December 6, re-arrested Sowore at the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja, barely 12 hours after it temporarily released him from a detention period that lasted about 124 days, based on the order of the trial court.
Sowore, who was the presidential candidate of African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election and publisher of an online news outlet, Sahara Reporters, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate), are currently answering to a seven-count treasonable felony charge.
They were in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/CR/235/2019, accused of conspiracy, money laundering, cyber-stalking and insulting President Buhari.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ordered their release on bail, a judicial directive the DSS spurned.