Nigeria: Why We've Not Released Sowore - SSS

Omoyele Sowore, an activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election.
7 November 2019

Nigeria's State Security Service has denied claims by lawyers representing the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, that they were being prevented from taking Mr Sowore after meeting his bail conditions on Wednesday.

The SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunaya, in a text message midnight Wednesday said the claims by Mr Sowore's lawyers that the publisher was denied bail after meeting his conditions were false.

"This not true. The SSS has not been informed by the judicial authorities or any legal representatives that the bail conditions have been met accordingly. The media shouldn't allow itself to be used as agents of misinformation," Mr Afunaya said.

The SSS spokesperson was responding to questions sent to his phone line after PREMIUM TIMES was informed by a lawyer representing Mr Sowore, Emmanuel Ogala, that they were prevented from taking Mr Sowore after fulfilling his bail conditions Wednesday evening.

"The judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, has signed his release warrant but the SSS claim they have closed. We were told that they close at 3:30 p.m.," Mr Ogala had told PREMIUM TIMES.

A similar argument had ensued when Mr Sowore was first granted bail by the same court, presided over by another judge, Taiwo Taiwo.

After Mr Sowore's lawyers said they were barred from taking the publisher and rights activist, the SSS described the claim as false and added that it had not received a formal communication regarding Mr Sowore's release order at the time.

After that declaration, Mr Sowore's lawyers made another attempt but were again, barred from taking Mr Sowore, the lawyers, led by foremost rights activist, Femi Falana told PREMIUM TIMES.

The security operatives later filed a formal charge against Mr Sowore who was not yet charged to court at the time, despite his arrest the previous month on August 3.

The prosecution lawyers had also told the court after filing the charge that the recent charge invalidated Mr Sowore's first release order and that the activist could only be released if a fresh bail application was favourable considered and its condition met by the defence team.

Mr Sowore, who contested for president in the 2019 general election, is facing trial for alleged treasonable felony and fraud after he planned a nationwide anti-government protest with the hashtag #RevelutionNow.

The Nigerian government had indicated a resolve to present secret witnesses testifying against Mr Sowore during the trial on Wednesday.

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