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Sowore’s Detention: Judge, lawyer exchange hot words over case-file
A mild drama played out before the Federal High in Abuja on Monday, as a lawyer representing the detained convener of RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, stormed the court, alleging plot to frustrate his client’s bail application.
The lawyer, Mr. Abubakar Marshal, who is from the Chambers of front-line human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, in the open court, queried why trial Justice Evelyn Maha had since August 28, failed to remit Sowore’s case-file back to a vacation Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo.
It will be recalled that Justice Maha had in a ruling, declined to hear an application for Sowore who has been in custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, since August 2, to be released on bail.
The detained activist who was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election, had through his team of lawyers led by Falana, SAN, prayed the court to review the order it made for the DSS to detain for 45 days.
However, when the application was brought to her attention, Justice Maha, said she was not minded to proceed with the case.
She noted that the detention order was issued against Sowore on August 8 by Justice Taiwo.
Relying on past judgments of the Supreme Court, Justice Maha said she was not competent to review or overrule the proceeding and decision of her learned brother.
She stressed that the apex court held that courts of the same coordinate jurisdiction have no power to review the decision of each other.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Sowore’s lawyer re-approached the court, seeking to know why Justice Maha had yet to return the case-file after she withdrew from entertaining the application.
Shortly after the court commenced its proceedings for the day, Mr. marshal stood up and told the Judge that he attended to enquire about the state of affairs regarding the case of his client.
“Your lordship, I am here in respect of the Omoyele sowore case you remitted back to your learned brother justice Taiwo Taiwo”, he stated.
Irked by the action, Justice Maha accused Sowore’s lawyer of behaving unruly before the Court.
“Yes, is that why you are disturbing my court, grandstanding before me over an administrative matter?”, Justice Maha queried.
Not deterred, Sowore’s lawyer continued: “Well your lordship had recused from the said case, I was informed that the case file is still with my lord, thus preventing Hon Justice Taiwo Taiwo’s court from setting the case down for hearing of pending applications to decide same one way or the other”.
At this juncture, Justice Maha explained that delay in the transmission of the case-file was purely an administrative issue.
“I told you that this is administrative, it is not a reason to come and disturb my court”.
Sowore’s lawyer interjected, saying, “I didn’t want to have an exparte discussion with your lordship in chambers, that is why I am here in the open court”.
Before he could conclude his submission, Justice Maha beckoned on the court’s clerk to call a new case.
“Don’t come and disturb my court’s business over such matters again”, she warned Sowore’s lawyer, adding that journalists in court should be mindful that she no longer had a hand in the case.
The DSS had in an affidavit it filed before the court, alleged that Sowore was sponsored by external forces to topple President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
It said in a bid to achieve his mission, Sowore, held meetings with leaders of outlawed groups, and subsequently called for a revolution against a democratically elected government in the country.
However, in a counter process he filed before the court, though Sowore admitted that he had a meeting with leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in the United States of America, he denied receiving any fund to wage war against President Buhari.
Sowore told the court that contrary to the allegation by the DSS, he has never visited Dubai or any other country in the United Arab Emirates, UAE, since he was born, adding that the DSS was not aware that he had a meeting with the IPOB leader till it was published on his online news platform, Sahara Reporters.
He told the court that DSS operatives that investigated both his local and foreign banks’ account details to establish if he received funds to fight against Buhari, said they could not believe that he does not have millions of Naira.
Arguing that he was illegal arrested, Sowore, told the court that he has been idle in detention and requires urgent treatment of ankle injury he sustained on August 2 when he was arrested by DSS operatives.
Sowore said he has never been involved in any terrorist activity “and there is no evidence whatsoever linking him to any terrorist activity”.
He said though the RevolutionNow mass protest took place in many cities across the Country on August 5 in his absence, there was no reported attempt to violently topple the government in Nigeria.