SAHARA Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare have been rearrested by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) just hours after being released from their custody.
Both Sowore and Bakare were forcefully rearrested at the premises of the Headquarters of Federal High Court early Friday morning when the hearing on the treasonable felony charge against them was adjourned to December 11 to 13 by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.
Sowore and Bakare were released Thursday evening after Justice Ojukwu ordered their release on bail by the DSS within 24 hours insisting that the trial would not commence except the order was complied with.
She had ruled that both Sowore and Bakare must be released from the custody or senior officials of the DSS would be held in criminal contempt.
On Friday however, the prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman had told the court that both he and the defence counsel had unanimously agreed to adjourn the trial to 11-13 December.
This was also agreed to by the presiding judge who announced that the case was therefore adjourned to the agreed dates.
As the defendants were about to leave the court 7 of the Federal High Court, a DSS officer dressed in a black suit grabbed Sowore from behind and dragged him down even as the court door was locked to prevent journalists from gaining entrance to witness the unfolding drama.
This led to a rowdy session in the court room as supporters of the Sahara Reporters publisher mounted a stiff resistance against his rearrest while the DSS operatives threatened to shoot them.
Meanwhile, Justice Ojukwu who had another case to hear in the same court was taken to safety by her orderly as the commotion continued.
Sowore’s counsel, Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) also resisted the arrest of the convener of #RevolutionNow, insisting that he could not be arrested within the court premises.
“Can I advise that you go out? you cannot arrest him in the premises of the court, who is your leader? he asked the heavily armed DSS operatives.”
— The ICIR (@TheICIR) December 6, 2019
Speaking to journalists in the court, Falana said he had earlier received information that the director of the State Security Services had ordered the ‘abduction’ of Sowore and Bakare.
“You will recall that I did inform the court that there are attempts to file another charge against them but the prosecution team said in the open court that there is no such information,” he said.
“We either run this country by the rule of law or we resort to gangsterism which is what is going on in the court because we’ve fought against military dictators including General Buhari and defeated all of them,” Falana added.
He said that ‘under a democratically elected government, we are not going to allow anybody to put the rule of law or treat it with disdain’.
“We have complied with the court order, what is therefore required is for the DSS allow our clients to enjoy their limited freedom because they have been restricted to Abuja and Osogbo respectively,” Falana lamented.
The human rights lawyer however stated emphatically that Sowore and Bakare’s arrest would not go unchallenged by the defendants.