DG of DSS risks imprisonment over Sowore’s continuous detention

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As American Nobel Laureate, Edmund Phelps, 71 others call for Sowore’s release

A Federal High Court in Abuja has threatened to commit the director general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi to prison for refusing to release the candidate of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore despite a court order.

In a letter to the DSS on Thursday, the court wrote: “Take notice, that unless you obey the direction…to release the applicant in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/915/2019, forthwith you will be guilty of contempt of court and liable to be committed to prison.

“The court has been informed that even as at today, Thursday, September 26, you are yet to comply with the lawful order of the Federal High Court by refusing to release the applicant namely; Omoyele Sowore, in your custody.”

It would be recalled that Justice Taiwo Taiwo had, on Tuesday, September 24, ordered the DSS to release Sowore from its custody.

The judge however, asked him to deposit his international passport with it before he is released.

On Wednesday, September 25, Sowore met the bail conditions given by the court.

Sowore’s lawyers led by senior counsel Mr. Femi Falana deposed to an affidavit confirming compliance with the order, Wednesday.

The affidavit of compliance with court order deposed to by a lawyer in Falana’s law firm, Mr. Marshal Abubakar, was filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja as confirmation of the submission of Sowore’s affidavit to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

It read in part: “That on September 24, 2019, this honorable court per Hon. Justice Taiwo Taiwo mandated the applicant/respondent to release the respondent/applicant forthwith.

“That the said order has since been served on the applicant/respondent (DSS). Attached hereto and marked Exhibit 1 is a copy of the endorsement by the applicant/respondent.

“That the court also ordered the respondent/applicant to deposit his international passport with the Deputy Chief Registrar of this honorable court within 48 hours.

“That the respondent/applicant’s international passport with passport number A50255207 has been deposited with the deputy chief registrar of this honorable court.”

A letter titled, ‘Notice of compliance with court order’ was signed by Abubakar and addressed to the office of the deputy chief registrar of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The letter was received Wednesday by the office of the DCR.

It read in part: “In line with the court order we respectfully forward with the instant correspondence, the international passport of Mr. Stephen Omoyele Sowore with passport number A50255207 to your good self.”

Meanwhile, an American Nobel Laureate in Economics, Edmund Phelps, joined other global academics, writers and activists to demand that Nigeria drop charges against Sowore.

An open letter signed by Phelps, alongside 71 other writers, academics and activists said Sowore a world-renowned journalist “has pioneered new and important avenues in the field of investigative journalism” besides being “the founder of the well-known online investigative news outlet.”

The letter reads: “We, the undersigned, write to express our deep concern regarding the arrest of journalist and activist Mr. Omoyele Sowore in Nigeria on August 3, 2019. Sowore was detained without bail by the Nigerian State Security Service in Lagos. There are seven charges against him including treason and money laundering. A High Court judge has ruled that Sowore should be released pending his trial but must surrender his passport.

“Mr. Sowore is a world-renowned journalist. He has pioneered new and important avenues in the field of investigative journalism. He is a graduate of the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. In addition, he is the founder of the well-known online investigative news outlet, Sahara Reporters that focuses on corruption and political misconduct.

“Many colleagues in the worlds of journalism and academia hold Mr. Sowore in great esteem for his life-long effort in speaking truth to power.

“Please consider dropping the charges against Mr. Sowore and please release him as soon as possible.

“Sincerely, Ned Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.”

Some other signatories include Columbia University journalism professors, Anya Schiffrin, Ann Cooper, Sheila Coronel and Bruce Shapiro, a Nigerian professor and author, Okey Ndibe, Claudia Dreifus, professor, Columbia University, Pamela Druckerman, Ingrid Ernø, Liza Featherstone, Rana Foroohar Catherine Gicheru, Todd Gitlin, Misha Glenny, Daniel J. Gorman, among others.

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