Sowore’s Court Drama: My Verdict


Strange things will not stop happening in Nigeria. Even the desecration of the temple of justice seems unabatedly progressive. What is known in saner climes as the sanctity of the Court does not apply here. It is a land of unrestricted possibilities. Sowore’s multiples of dramas in the Courtroom form a fat part of such alien occurrence.

The last four months have been quite interesting. It has been a case of protracted distraction. In July this year, Mr Omoyele Sowore was arrested and detained by the Department of State Services, DSS. The arrest followed his declaration of what he chose to call, #RevolutionNowProtest. He had vowed to lead a sustained revolution until the current President Buhari’s leadership is unsettled.

Millions of Nigerians are still talking on the matter. While some blamed the Department of State Services for arresting and holding Sowore in custody, many believe, his utterances and intent declaration had threatened state security. He had since been charged for treasonable felony. A sustained legal battle had followed with Court orders asking for his release. But he was continuously held in custody. The contention had been that Sowore was unable to meet bail conditions.

But, after he was expressly granted bail and ordered to be released last Thursday, Sowore is said to have flouted his bail conditions the same day. Then on Friday, after his case was duly called, deliberated and adjourned at the Abuja Federal High Court, a drama ensued. The viral online video shows how Mr Sowore was being draged by a man in suit. While many have referred to him (that man in black suit) as an official of the Department of State Services, DSS, others have denied that the fellow was saying he was rather Sowore’s supporter who has been spotted with him in various occasions.

The DSS in its statement on Saturday, December 7, described the allegation as misinformation. The Service, through a statement signed by its National Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, Ph.D stated that Sowore was mobbed by his uncontrollable supporters who chanted “you can’t arrest him”, after sighting the presence of the DSS officials outside the Court premises. “The eventual re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS was effected outside the courtroom”, the statement further read.

Again, the statement which insisted that the Service respects the Court and the Rule of Law, cited Sowore’s public statement of 25th July, 2019 saying he was rather the one who lacked respect to the sanctity of the Court. According to his cited speech, Sowore had said, “I’m not talking of protest. I’m embarking on revolution… Don’t tell me about legal implications or what a Judge will say. I don’t care…” Importantly the DSS justified the rearrest of Sowore, following his alleged inimical acts after his release. “It is most unfortunate that SOWORE, shortly after being released from custody, based on court order, resorted to acts inimical to security”, the Service had said. The conclusion of the whole matter, as the DSS put it, is that they (the Service) were “committed to the discharge of its mandate of detecting and preventing threats against the internal security of Nigeria”, while ensuring that “efforts of anti-democratic forces are frustrated.”

In his swift reaction, the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka regretted that “hungry wild dogs exhibit more civilized table manners than the DSS court manners”. Describing a sustained discobedience of Court orders in the Buhari’s led Nigeria’s democracy as a “plain crude thuggery”, he added that such outright disobedience could eventually lead to civil disobedience – a state of anomie. He therefore called on the president to “rein in his wild dogs and “get a trainer to teach them some basic court manners!”

But, in a State House Press Release, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu dismissed the allegations and public perception that the DSS was being forced by the President, Muhammadu Buhari to keep Sowore in detention. The presidency explained that the “DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in the country.”

The statement pointed out that by his outright proclamation of Revolution Now “Days of Rage”, the former Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, (AAC) had made himself a person of interest to the DSS. The statement insisted that to “believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore was incorrectly described.” It concluded that with so much security issues and unrests in the country, Nigeria did not need “another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially as was being orchestrated by a man with a home in far away New York and who could easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, just like Nnamdi Kanu.”

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC in its official state signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, backed the action of the DSS in rearresting Mr Sowore. The Party which did not address the unruly scenario at the Abuja Federal High Court, rather attacked voices which have condemned Sowore’s re-arrest.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana who is the Counsel to Sowore had also condemned the situation, giving insights to the reason the Sahara Reporters Publisher is being detained. Falana stated that the Buhari led government was holding Sowore based on his deep knowledge and readiness to expose widespread corruption in the present administration.

Many other groups and individuals have made public statements on the development. The coalition of civil society and human rights persons has even given the federal government a 14-day ultimatum to release Sowore and all those being unduly incarcerated. Others share in the belief that the Court defilement was not done by the DSS because none of those in the video has been identified as an official of the Service.

Scars could not imagine that exalted height of legal bastardization. It is a big question on the civility of the Nigerian environment that such barbarism could be carried out on the temple of justice. Not hidden, the drama could only be thought of in the Nollywood. Broad day light, the unfortunate incident is quite abhorring. It reminds one of that famous play, Murder in the Cathedral, where an archbishop was brutally killed right inside the temple. The drama is a reminder that Nigeria is wriggled in chains.

While it is normal to condemn that act of rudeness, it is important to observe that perpetrators of the act be made to face the full wrath of the law. The DSS had denied them as being their officials, fine. The Service said they are Sowore’s supporters. On his part, Sowore and his team piled the accusation on the Service. As a neutral but very law abiding and curious citizen of Nigeria, Scars believes that perpetrators of the act must be properly identified and publicly dealt with. It is only by doing so that Nigerians will have confidence in the civility and integrity of the country’s security forces.

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