Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The detained convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, has opposed a fresh application filed by the Department of State Service (DSS) to secure a leave of the Federal High Court in Abuja to transfer him to a correctional facility.
Sowore, who has been in detention since August 2, accused the DSS of deliberately frustrating the execution of the court order that granted bail to him and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate), pending the determination of the treasonable felony charge against them.
The duo, in a preliminary objection they filed through their lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), described the application to hand them over to the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) as “frivolous, vexatious and contemptuous abuse of the judicial process.”
They hinged their objection to the request on sections 6(6) (b), 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Falana said: “The application was filed by the Complainant/Applicant to frustrate the execution of the order of release of the 1st and 2nd Defendants/Objectors from the custody of the State Security Service made by this Honourable Court on the 6th November 2019.
“There is no genuine intention to prosecute the 1st and 2nd Defendants by the Complainant/Applicant as the statement of witnesses this Honourable Court ordered to be availed the Defence team is yet to be issued and served.
“The grounds upon which the Complainant’s/Applicant’s application is hinged are frivolous, vexatious, contemptuous, manifestly unarguable and unknown to law.”
In a supporting affidavit that was deposed to by Marshal Abubakar, a lawyer in Falana’s law chamber, he chronicled how the DSS allegedly thwarted efforts to secure the release of the defendants from detention.
He told the court that the agency had at a point, claimed that Sowore would be knocked down by a vehicle if released from custody.
He averred: “That on the 6th November, 2019, this Honourable Court ordered for the release of the Defendants/Objectors upon their satisfactorily meeting the bail condition. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT A is a Copy of the Release orders.
“That on the 6th November 2019, a bailiff of this Honourable Court; Nomkpo Kenter and I were at the Headquarters of the State Security Service to effect service of the release orders and demand for the release of the Defendants/Objectors but we were asked to come back the next day.
“That on the 7th November 2019, me, a bailiff of this Honourable Court; Nomkpo Kenter and two other members of the legal team, to wit, Mssr. Stanley Imhanruonor, and Mssr. Inibehe Effiong were at the Headquarters of the State Security Service to serve the release order and demand for the release of the Defendants/Objectors but after the bailiff was subjected to gruelling questioning by officials of the State Security Service, he was asked to go and that they would call him back whenever they are ready to release the Defendants/Objectors.
“That I and the two other members of the legal team, to wit, Mssr. Stanley Imhanruonor and Mssr. Inibehe Effiong demanded for the release of the Defendants/Objectors in line with the Order of release which had already been served on the State Security Service but we were asked to go and that they would call us back whenever they are ready to release the Defendants/Objectors.
“That on the 7th November 2019, officials of the State Security Service approached the bail Unit of this Honourable Court, menacingly demanding for the identity of the persons that stood surety for the Defendants/Objectors herein.
“That on the 8th November 2019, the spokesman of the State Security Service, Dr. Peter Afunanya in a press statement acknowledged receipt of the release order but claimed that ‘no person has turned up at the DSS to take delivery of’ the Defendants/Objectors. Attached hereto and marked EXHIBIT B is a news report confirming the assertion.”