Sowore’s Get Freedom After 125 Days with DSS

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Omoyele Sowore, a pro-democracy protester, was released from custody in the State Services Department (DSS) where he was held for 125 days after his arrest on 3 August.

The eventual release of Sowore came hours after Judge Ijeoma Ojukwu, sitting at the Federal High Court in Abuja, issued an ultimatum to release him for 24-hour covert defense.

In two different occasions, Sowore was bailed out by the tribunal, but the DSS declined to let him go.

Among other crimes, the DSS filed a seven-count indictment based on treasonable, cyber-stalking offences.

Previously, it had obtained an ex-party order allowing it to retain Sowore for 45 days while investing the charges against him that were ultimately preferred.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who subsequently released an ex-party warrant, ordered the DSS to release democracy activists.

Sowore was ordered to be released in custody of his attorney, Femi Falana.

Instead of freeing him, however, the DSS Ojukwu immediately brought him to justice.

Uncomfortable with Sowore’s prolonged detention, his attorney filed a 19-pronged petition calling on the court to set aside the ex-party order.

The case has been assigned to Judge Nkweonye Maha of the same court.

On 28 August, Maha refused to hear Sowore’s motion on the ground that she had no jurisdiction to review the decision of Justice Taiwo, which had approved the ex-party order.

She rejected all Falana’s demands and sent the case back to the court.

Again, on 13 September, Falana filed a further motion calling on the court to grant bail to its client on self-recognition or on any condition that the court may reasonably deem appropriate.

Following the indictment of Sowore and Bakare before Ojukwu, bail was issued, but under strict conditions, by the jury.

Justice Ojukwu granted bail to N100 million Sowor with two different guarantees. Protection shall include evidence of landed property and tax clearance within the jurisdiction of the tribunal. One of the guarantors must deposit N50 million to cover the account of the court. She also prevented him from leaving Abuja in his courtroom.

She granted bail of N50 million to Bakare, with one promise for the same amount. Protecting must have landed estate in Abuja. After his case, he was also banned from leaving Oshogbo.

The plaintiffs, through their attorney, Femi Falana, demanded a change of conditions and asked the court for leniency.

On 21 October, the judge of the court set aside one of the preceding requirements for 50 million security deposits.

It also reduced the second defendant’s bail from N50 million to N20 million. Nevertheless, Justice Ojukwu declined to amend all the other provisions of the bail.

On 6 November, when the case was brought to court, Ojukwu issued a warrant asking for the release of DSS detainees.

Once, the secret police refused to let them go when they went.

The DSS questioned Sowore’s assurances to provide evidence in one of its press releases.

In another statement, the service said that if it were released, Sowore could be knocked down by moving the car.

The judge ordered the DSS to order a flamboyant court on Thursday, 5 December, when the trial resumed. N100,000 were awarded DSS damages by the visibly angry Justice Ojukwu for disobeying her order.

She also ordered activists to be released from DSS detention within 24 hours.

For the continuation of the court, the case was adjourned until 6 December.

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