The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Monday, indicated that he could not ask the Department of State Service to release Omoyele Sowore from custody.
The minister said in the statement that he could not take a unilateral decision on the release of Sowore without recourse to the court, where the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests convener and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, are being prosecuted on charges of treasonable felony, among others.
This is contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, who stated that Malami was reacting to “the claim that a lawyer sent a letter to the AGF requesting the release of Mr. Sowore”.
The statement appeared to be a veiled reference to the letter by Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), sent to the AGF on Friday to demand the release of the convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ protests from the custody of the DSS.
Falana’s letter dated December 13, 2019, reported by The PUNCH on Monday followed the Friday’s announcement by the AGF office that it had taken over the prosecution of the Sahara Reporters’ publisher and Bakare from the DSS.
The AGF’s takeover of the case was informed by the widely condemned invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja by the operatives of the DSS to rearrest Sowore on December 6.
Falana who heads the defence team of the two men informed Malami that Sowore had, since his rearrest on December 6, been kept in the DSS custody without the backing of any detention order of court or arrest warrant.
He stated that his letter became necessary after two lawyers in the team visited the DSS headquarters in Abuja to demand Sowore’s release but were advised to direct their request to Malami.
In a terse statement making a veiled reference to Falana’s letter on Monday, Malami said in the statement issued by Gwandu, “When parties submit their issues for determination to a court of law, they lack exclusivity of decision over such issues without recourse to the court.”
“We remain guided by the established tradition and will not take unilateral decision without recourse to the rule of law,” he added.
The same court, the Federal High Court in Abuja, where Sowore and Bakare were charged, has granted bail to the two of them.
But the order for the release of Sowore was snubbed by the secret police organisation whose operatives’ violently re-arrested him barely 24 hours of releasing him from detention that lasted over four months.
The two men were arrested over their call for ‘RevolutionNow’ protests with the DSS accusing them of attempting to overthrow the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari.