DSS is floundering – Soyinka
The Department of State Services (DSS) has for the umpteenth time explained the reason while it is yet to set free the promoter of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and his co-accused, Mr. Olawale Bakare, from its detention.
The two men who are standing trial for alleged treasonable felony pressed against them by the federal government, had last week met the bail condition set by the Federal High Court, Abuja
However, spokesman for the DSS, Mr. Peter Afunaya said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that the people who stood as sureties for the two detainees were yet to come forward for them.
He insisted that it was only appropriate for such persons to come for the accused.
Afunaya debunked reports that DSS personnel shot at protesters who went to its headquarters on Tuesday to demand the release of the two men.
He said the DSS operatives maintained professionalism and upheld global security practice in spite of unwarranted provocations.
He claimed that DSS operatives only defended the facility when alleged unruly attempts were made by some persons to forcefully break into the place and release Sowore.
Besides, he castigated Sowore’s lawyer counsel, Mr. Femi Falana for allegedly guiding his clients and supporters wrongly.
“He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilising miscreants to subvert the service and other state authorities.
“Despite serial and unwarranted provocations, the service, as a professional and responsible organisation, did not shoot at the so called protesters. It could not have done so.
“For emphasis, the service reiterates its avowed readiness to release Sowore once the processes are concluded. It maintains that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of Sowore.
“While all those that have so far shown up are not directly concerned with the matter and therefore unqualified, many others have either chosen to grandstand or politicise it to achieve hidden interests.
“In the last few days, the service has continued to witness deliberate campaigns of calumny, threats and aspersions against it. It will not, for any reason, join issues with its mudslingers. The media is called upon to be neutral and remain champions of the truth.
“It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for Sowore present themselves and have him released to them. It is even more disappointing that Femi Falana, who is a senior lawyer, would wrongly guide his client and supporters.
“He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilising miscreants to subvert the service and other state authorities. He has excellent relationship with the DGSS. But in the circumstance, he has refused to reach out to him over the case like he had on previously related ones.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the service restates its commitment to the rule of law and particularly respect to the court. It, therefore, calls for calm but states that it will not be intimidated or harassed into hasty actions.
“It reassures the public that it will not waste a second to release Sowore if the proper processes are followed. And Falana, sure, knows what these are,” he said
However, earlier in a statement, Falana had accused the DSS of constituting itself into an appellate court.
He said the Federal High Court attached no condition for the release on bail of Sowore.
He said the DSS never contacted the four lawyers who waited several hours on November 7 for the release of Sowore and Bakare as they had promised.
The lawyer added that the agency was aggravating the felony of contempt of court by asking sureties who had been verified by the trial court to report in its office for an illegal verification.
“On November 6, the Bailiff of the Federal High Court wanted to serve the order of court for the immediate release of Messrs Omoyele Sowore and Adebayo Bakare on the State Security Service (SSS). Under the pretext that the management had closed for the day the Court Bailiff was asked to serve the order at 10am on November 7.
“In the company of four members of the defence team the Court Bailiff served the order on that day. After the four lawyers had waited in vain for hours the SSS asked them to go and that they would be contacted on phone to pick up the two detainees after consultations.
“But the SSS never contacted the lawyers. To our utter dismay, the SSS issued an incendiary statement on November 8 wherein it was claimed that no one had shown up to receive both detainees.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), two members of the defence team, family members and friends of both detainees reported at the headquarters of the SSS. Some journalists were also there to witness the release of both detainees.
“Instead of releasing both detainees to their lawyers and family members the SSS fired tear gas and shot into the air. In the process, the lawyers, family members and friends of both detainees were physically attacked by masked security operatives.
“Some of the journalists were seriously injured. Having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that members of the defence team, family members and friends of the two detainees had reported in the headquarters of the SSS to receive them the story has now changed.
“The SSS has now said that “It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for Sowore present themselves and have him released to them.”
“From the latest statement it is crystal clear that the SSS has no scores to settle with Mr. Bakare. Hence, the SSS has decided not to invite his own sureties to collect him. It is hoped that the SSS will release him without any further delay.
“With respect to Mr. Sowore, we wish to state, without any fear of contradiction, that the SSS has apparently constituted itself into an appellate court over the Federal High Court. For the avoidance of doubt, no condition is attached to the order of court for the release of both detainees.
“Therefore, the SSS is aggravating the felony of contempt of court by asking sureties who had been verified by the trial court to report in its office for an illegal verification.
“In view of the reckless insinuations of the SSS, I am compelled to point out that my colleagues and I did not risk our lives for the purpose of substituting military dictatorship for civilian autocracy. It is pertinent to point out that suspects who were presumed innocent under the defunct military junta were not exposed to the crude intimidation that has become the lot of Sowore and Bakare.
“Even when five of us were charged with treasonable felony in May 1992 we were released after we had met the bail conditions. On that occasion, the SSS never asked our sureties to report after they had been verified by the trial court. I demand for nothing less for my clients under the current political dispensation which ought to be anchored on the rule of law.
“Finally, I confirm that I have an official relationship with the DG of SSS. But since the commencement of the case of Sowore and Bakare the DG has refused to pick my calls while I have since become a persona non grata in the office of the SSS.
“With respect to the baseless allegation that I am playing to the gallery by demanding for the release of my clients in line with the valid and subsisting order of a competent law court, I shall take appropriate action under the law. “Meanwhile, the SSS should release our clients from illegal custody and should stop exposing the country to unwarranted ridicule,” said Falana in a statement.
Also reacting, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said the DSS continued detention of Sowore and Bakare as not only callous, but criminal.
He said in a statement on Wednesday that if the government could not allow the rule of law to reign, it should declare the “death of ordered society” so citizens would know where they stand
“Predictably, the ham-fisted response of the Directorate of State Security continues to defy the rulings of the court. The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resorted to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets.
“Why the desperation? The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail! It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering.
“That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!
“Such a development is not only callous and inhuman, it is criminal. It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets? This is no longer comical,” he said.
He reminded the federal government that persons in other countries who trampled on established human rights which generated homicidal impunity were, years later, called to account for such abuse of power and crimes against humanity.