Nigeria: #RevolutionNow Protest - Govt Applies to Mask Witnesses Against Sowore, Bakare

Omoyele Sowore
9 March 2020

The Federal Government has filed a fresh application before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, asking to be allowed to mask all the witnesses that are billed to testify against the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoleye Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawole Bakare.

Sowore, who was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election and publisher of an online news outlet, Sahara Reporters, and Bakare, are facing an amended two-count charge that FG preferred against them through the Federal Ministry of Justice.

They were accused of conspiring to stage a revolution campaign on August 5, 2019, tagged "#Revolution Now", aimed at removing President Muhammadu Buhari from office as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during his term of office, otherwise than by constitutional means.

Trial Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had on February 13, slated Wednesday to commence full-blown hearing on the matter, even as she ordered the prosecution to ensure that it produced its witnesses for the trial.

Meanwhile, in the fresh application dated March 5, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard last night, FG, told the court that its witnesses are afraid that they would be killed by the defendants.

It, therefore, applied for, "An order of this honourable court excluding person's other than parties and their legal representatives with the exception of the accredited members of the Press at the hearing of the above-named charge.

"An order of this honourable court directing that the courts should be vacated whenever the prosecution witnesses are coming to testify in the screen to be masked and that only the trial Judge, parties and their legal representatives with the exception of the accredited members of the Press will see the witnesses when they are testifying.

As well as, "An order of the honourable court directing that the real names and addresses of prosecution witnesses in the proceedings shall not be disclosed".

In a five paragraphed affidavit that was deposed to by one Noma Wando, a litigation officer in the Department of Public Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice, FG, told the court that the witnesses, "are afraid of giving evidence, unless they are protected, for fear of being murdered by the defendants, his cohorts or members of the 'Revolution Now' protest group across the country".

It said: "That the prosecution witnesses who are Officers of the Department of State Service, who investigated this case, are reluctant to come and give evidence for fear of being attacked by the other members of the Revolution Now' protest group across the country".

FG further told the court that the witnesses assured that if they are protected by the court, "they are willing to come and testify, for Justice to be done in this case.

"That it is in the interest of justice and public safety that the application is granted", it added.

The amended 2-count charge against the defendants read: "That you Omoloye Stephen Sowore, Male, Adult of No.1, Mosafejo street, Kiribo, Ese- Odo LGA, Ondo State, Olawale Adebayo Bakare (A.K.A Mandate), male, adult of Olaiya Area, Oshogbo LGA, Osun State and others at large, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution (CORE), sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to stage a revolution campaign on 5th day of August 2019 tagged "#Revolution Now" aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during his term of office otherwise than by constitutional means.

"That you Omoloye Stephen Sowore, Male, Adult of No.1, Mosafejo street, Kiribo, Ese- Odo LGA, Ondo State, Olawale Adebayo Bakare (A.K.A Mandate), male, adult of Olaiya Area, Oshogbo LGA, Osun State and others at large, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution (CORE), sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to stage a revolution campaign on 5th day of August 2019 tagged "#Revolution Now" aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during his term of office otherwise than by constitutional means".

They were said to had by their action, committed the offence of treasonable felony, contrary to section 41(a) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under the same section of the Act.

Vanguard

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