Falana, NHRC fault DSS for failure to release Sowore, Bakare

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decried the continued detention of the convener of RevolutionNow Protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and his co-accused, Mr. Olawale Bakare by the Department of State Services (DSS).

It would be recalled that the DSS had on Friday, December 8 admitted that it had been served with the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court’s warrants for the release of the two men from custody.

But yesterday, the agency, through its spokesman, Mr. Peter Afunaya said in a statement there was no representation for the release of the two men.

Reacting to the development, the executive secretary of NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said in a statement that such conduct of disobedience to court order erodes the confidence of the people in government and the judiciary.

“Many cases have been reported to the commission about investigating police officers and state security officers deliberately refusing or delaying to verify bail conditions following court orders just to punish suspects unduly for reasons that are not constitutional.

“The constitution guarantees the innocence of every citizen of Nigeria until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“A situation where the order of courts are continuously disobeyed by security agents makes such security agents judges onto themselves and such situation does not augur well for our democracy based on separation of powers and rule of law.

“It makes the law uncertain at any point in time and leads to loss of confidence of the people in government and state institutions of which the judiciary is one.

“A situation like this can also lead to self-help thereby creating more problems for law enforcement agents and threaten the precarious situation of state responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill human rights in the country,” Ojukwu said.

Similarly, counsel for Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana countered the DSS describing its statement as “misleading.”

He said four lawyers from his chambers had waited at the agency’s headquarters for four hours without any response from its operatives.

He said in spite of acknowledging the receipt of the court order, the DSS still failed to comply with it.

“On 6/11/19 the bailiff of the federal high court wanted to serve the reproduction warrants issued by the court on the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS). But the SSS asked the Bailiff to call back at 10.00am on 7/11/19. The bailiff did and was able to serve the reproduction warrants on the DG of the SSS.

“Upon acknowledging the service of the reproduction warrants, the SSS assured the bailiff and five lawyers from the defence team that our clients would be released yesterday (Thursday). But the SSS decided not to release our clients to our lawyers who waited in vain in the agency’s headquarters for not less than four hours,” he said.

According to him, “When Sowore said that he would not make a statement without first consulting with me, the SSS management called me on phone on 6/8/19. Assuming the SSS had wanted to release our clients since yesterday, the management would have contacted me.

“Even though the SSS disobeyed the order of the Honourable Justice Taiwo for the release of Mr. Sowore on 24/9/19, it has turned round to announce its readiness to comply with the order of the Honourable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu for the release of Sowore and Bakare from illegal custody”.

Also at the weekend, a group of activists demanding Sowore’s release had staged a protest at the headquarters of DSS in Abuja.

Led by Mr. Deji Adeyanju, the group said the agency failed to release Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court.

“They have refused to release Sowore to me or his lawyer here. They claim they are not at work,” said Adeyanju.

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