Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says there is no plan by the Department of State Services (DSS) to report a federal high court judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for granting Omoyele Sowore bail.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana said the report on the secret service petitioning the NJC against Taiwo Taiwo, the judge, who granted bail to Sowore, is false.
He said it was designed to blackmail and intimidate judges in the case of the activist.
“However, in a desperate bid to divert public attention from the contemptuous conduct of the SSS the federal government has hurriedly pressurised the federal high court to assign the case for the arraignment of Mr. Sowore,” he said.
“I wish to state without any fear of contradiction, that the federal high court is competent to admit a person charged with a capital offence to bail by virtue of section 161 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. But in this case, Mr. Sowore has not been charged with a capital offence.
“Treasonable felony is not a capital offence under section 41 of the Criminal Code. Even under the most brutal dictatorial regimes in Nigeria our courts did not hesitate to uphold the fundamental right of the victims of repression to personal liberty including those who were charged with treasonable felony.
“Having regards to the facts and circumstances of this case, the SSS cannot complain against the handling of the case by Justice Taiwo who did not even entertain our application to quash the order for Mr. Sowore’s detention for 45 days. We had wanted to show that Mr. Sowore did not engage in any terrorist activity to warrant his incarceration.
“In urging Nigerians to disregard the dubious report it ought to be pointed out that Justice Taiwo has not been accused of any act of judicial misconduct in ordering the conditional release of Mr. Sowore from unlawful custody. After all, it was the SSS counsel, Mr. Godwin Agbadua who withdrew his fresh motion ex parte motion for an order to further detain him for 20 days.
“To that extent, the National Judicial Council has no power to sanction a judicial officer for exercising his/her discretion judicially and judicially in an application for the bail of a citizen. In other words, since the NJC is not an appellate court it cannot review the order for the conditional release of Mr. Sowore from illegal custody.”
Taiwo had ordered the secret service to release the publisher of Sahara Reporters immediately to his lawyer.
The judge held there was no subsisting order to keep him in detention. But the DSS is yet to comply with the court’s decision.