Sowore: Court threatens imprisonment of SSS director

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By Evelyn Okakwu

The Federal High Court, Abuja Division, has issued a warning that it would order the imprisonment of the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Bichi

The court gave the warning on Thursday in response to the failure of the SSS to release the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. The court’s warning was also based on an application by Mr Sowore’s lawyers led by senior advocate Femi Falana.

A copy of the court order dated September 26 said the SSS must release Mr Sowore as directed by the court or it would be guilty of contempt and liable to be committed to prison.

“Take notice that unless you obey the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division delivered on September 24 which ordered you to release the applicant, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison,” the document read.

The Federal High Court had ordered the immediate release of Mr Sowore from prison on Tuesday after ruling that there was no longer a valid reason to continue detaining the respondent.

Mr Sowore, who was arrested on August 3 for planning a protest popularised with the hashtag #RevolutionNow, is facing trial on seven counts for alleged treasonable felony, fraud and cyberstalking.

The SSS also accused Mr Sowore of disseminating an interview wherein he made utterances termed by the prosecution as “insulting, causing hatred and enmity” to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The charge sheet also included an allegation that Mr Sowore and another defendant, Olawale Bakare, planned the protest to overthrow the incumbent government.

The SSS had obtained two separate orders for Mr Sowore’s detention till September 21.

At the expiration of those orders, the SSS informed the court of an application earlier seeking further detention of Mr Sowore for 20 days. It also notified the court that the recent application had been overtaken by events based on the provisions of the law, since the SSS had filed an information before the court suggesting that investigations had been concluded regarding allegations against Mr Sowore.

Despite that declaration by the SSS lawyer, G. A. Agbadua, the prosecution still hinted the court of its desire to continue detaining Mr Sowore. Mr Agbadua argued that the allegations against Mr Sowore attracted capital punishment and that bail in such circumstances where highly restricted.

That claim was, however, refuted by Mr Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, who told the court that Mr Agbadua was misleading the court with his claim that allegations against Mr Sowore attracted capital punishment.

Mr Sowore met all the bail conditions on Wednesday, as certified by the court, and the SSS was promptly notified.

However, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES Thursday, a lawyer from Mr Falana’s Chambers, Marshal Abubakar, said they were still expecting to hear from the SSS after leaving the office of the security agency on Wednesday night without the detained publisher.

He said the SSS officials explained that they were awaiting a directive for Mr Sowore’s release from Mr Bichi.

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