Journalism of Courage

Sowore: Falana mulls over his restrictive bail condition, says last imposed in colonial era



… urges rights groups to fight dictatorship in Nigeria


The continued inceration of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and the stringent bail conditions slammed on him by the court has become a heartache to his lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN).


Barring his mind after another Federal High Court in Abuja “varied the bail conditions’’,  Falana noted that even after meeting all the conditions, Sowore would still be restricted or confined to a part of the country.


The Lagos human rights lawyer recalled that the last time such a restrictive condition was imposed on anyone was during the colonial era in Nigeria.


Sowore, who has spent about 88 days in the custody of the DSS, is  an indigene of Kiribo in the  coastal Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State and was the presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 2019 poll.


The convener of #RevolutionNow campaign, was arrested by the Department of Security Services (DSS) on Aug. 3 in Lagos and charged to court for alleged treason.


Justice Taiwo Taiwo of an Abuja Federal High Court had first granted Sowore bail by releasing him to his lawyer (Falana) who must ensure that he was brought to court when needed, but the DSS after disobeying the lawful order to release him, re-arraigned him and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare,
before another Federal High Court.


Falana recalled:“Frontline trade unionist, the late Pa Michael Imodu, whose movement was restricted to Auchi, Edo State, for three years via a court order and was eventually allowed to
relocate to Lagos.’’


He spoke at the annual conference of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) held in Abeokuta, Ogun, with the theme, “Appraising Human Rights and Security for the Survival for Democracy in Nigeria.’’


“The last time we had such bail condition was under the former colonial regime where people were reported and restricted to a particular part of the country,’’ he said.


While calling on human rights groups to wake up, unite and prepare to battle what he called an emerging dictatorship in the country, Falana urged all activists and rights groups to
re-enact what led to the exit of military dictatorship from power in Nigeria.


“No dictator can defeat the Nigerian people because a people united can never be defeated. I believe  you are all aware of Omoyele Sowore. For those of you who are not lawyers, you may not understand  the bail condition imposed on Sowore.


“I can recall that of Pa Imodu. He was restricted to Auchi area (in today’s Edo State) for three years before he could come back to Lagos. That is where we are.


“CDHR needs to get all other human rights groups together, unite and do what we use to do during the military regime,’’ he stressed.


Falana, however, said efforts were on to meet the bail conditions of Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

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