Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja, yesterday admitted detained convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore to bail in the sum of N100 million.
Also admitted to bail in the sum of N50 million was Sowore’s co-defendant, Olaleye Bakare. Sowore and Bakare are accused of committing “conspiracy” to commit treasonable by “staging a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019, aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Justice Ojukwu who admitted the defendants to bail in a ruling, held that the offences they were being charged with are bailable.
As part of the bail conditions, Sowore is to produce two sureties in like sum who must be resident in Abuja and show evidence of tax payment for three years from 2014 to 2016, while Bakare is to produce one surety in the sum of N50 million, who also must show evidence of tax payment within the same three years period.
The court in addition ordered the defendants not to participate in any form of protest pending the determination of the suit.
In addition, the judge ordered the defendants not to travel without the permission of the court.
Justice Ojukwu also ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) pending the perfection of their bail.
The matter has been adjourned till November 6,7 and 8 for commencement of trial.
Earlier, in arguing the bail application, counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana SAN urged the court to admit them to bail on the grounds that they are entitled to bail and they do not have any criminal record.
Falana submitted that the claim by the respondent that Sowore will jump bail being a resident of America is not tenable, stressing that the 1st defendant was a candidate in the February 23 presidential election.
On the first charge of treasonable felony, the senior lawyer argued that the word ‘Revolution’ has never been criminalised, pointing out that Buhari after losing election in 2003 called for a revolution and was never arrested by the respondent.
On count two, which accused Sowore of insulting the president, Falana said that the law does not allow a public officer to use the machinary of state to “settle scores”, stressing that if the president felt insulted, the legal option before him was to sue for libel or defamation.
Reacting to the case of Asari Dokubo cited by the respondent in opposition to the bail application, Falana pointed out that Dokubo was denied bail by the Supreme Court based on his confessional statement and not because of the severity of the charge against him. He submitted that nowhere in Sowore’s statement was he associated with violence.
He assured the court that if granted bail, the defendants would not interfere with evidence or witnesses of the prosecution.
He cited several cases where persons accused of treasonable felony were granted bail even on self-recognizance and urged the court to do same for his clients or at most admit them to bail on liberal terms.
While stressing that the case of Nnamdi Kanu, who jumped bail last year was quite different from that of his client, he submitted that the respondent knew Kanu’s whereabouts and can easily extradite him.
In his opposition to the bail application, counsel to the prosecution, Hassan Liman SAN, urged the court to disregard the submissions of the defendants because they touched on the substance of the case.
He said that the charges against the defendants were severe, carrying life sentences if convicted, hence the high risk of the defendants jumping their bail if granted.
While citing the case of Nnamdi Kanu, who absconded from his trial after he was granted bail by a Federal High Court, the prosecution submitted that the first defendant is a flight risk being a resident of the United States of America.
Another reason the court should not release the defendants on bail, the prosecution counsel noted, was the possibility of the defendants repeating the act, adding that Sowore had on September 30 after the court’s proceedings, was shouting ‘Revolution now’.
Liman in urging the court not to admit the defendants to bail, said investigations had been concluded and the prosecution was ready for an accelerated hearing of the suit.
The federal government had on September 30 arraigned Sowore and his co-accused Olaleye on a seven count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony, insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, money laundering amongst others.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Before their arraignment on September 30, Sowore has been in the custody of the DSS following his arrest on August 3 by operatives of the DSS over alleged plan to push for the removal of President Buhari from office through unconstitutional means.
Sowore has remained in the custody of the DSS despite an order for his release by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on September 24.