The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday granted bail to the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.
Counsel for the Sahara Reporters publisher, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), described the conditions attached to the bail granted his client and Bakare as “stringent”.
Falana said the defence team would meet before Monday to decide on actions to take over the bail conditions as granted by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.
Alternatively, one of our correspondents also gathered that the team may approach Justice Ojukwu to review the conditions.
Falana said, ‘‘We will meet this weekend on the issue of bail conditions. No decision had been taken on whether to appeal or approach the judge on the matter.”
Justice Ojukwu’s ruling on Friday granted Sowore bail in the sum of N100m with two sureties in like sum.
The two sureties must have landed property in Abuja worth N100m each and must be resident in the city.
The judge also ordered that the two sureties must deposit in the court’s registry the original of their Abuja property’s document of title.
Aside from these, Justice Ojukwu ordered that one of Sowore’s sureties must deposit the sum of N50m in the court’s bank account as security.
She also ordered that they must produce evidence of tax clearance for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
She ordered the activist to deposit his passport with the registry of the court as she also barred him from travelling outside Abuja pending the period of the trial.
She also barred him from addressing any gathering throughout the period of his trial.
Justice Ojukwu granted Bakare bail in the sum of N50m with one surety, who must be resident and have property worth that sum in Abuja.
The surety is also required to deposit the property’s document of title with the court’s registry, while Bakare would have to deposit his passport.
His surety would also be required to depose to an affidavit of means and submit evidence of tax clearance for 2016, 2017, 2018.
She also barred Bakare from addressing any gathering pending the conclusion of their trial.
The judge also ordered that he should not move out of Osogbo, Osun State, where he is resident, apart from when attending trial in Abuja until the conclusion of trial.
Justice Ijeoma after delivering the ruling granting bail to the defendants ordered that they should be remanded in prison.
But Falana pleaded with the judge to order that they should be in the custody of the Department of the State Services pending when they would meet their bail conditions.
The prosecuting counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), reluctantly conceded to Falana’s request.
The judge then ordered that the defendants should be in the DSS custody.
But during deliberation between the prosecution and the defence on the choice of the next hearing date, Liman asked for an adjournment till a date in October.
But Falana said, “Do you know when I will be able to meet the stringent bail conditions? It is safer to adjourn trial till November.”
While the deliberation between Falana and Liman was on, Justice Ojukwu ordered that the person who described the bail conditions in a hushed tone as “punitive” should be identified.
It turned out to be a lawyer in Falana’s law firm.
Both Falana and the lawyer apologised, saying the comment was not meant to disparage the judge.
The judge then adjourned till November 6, 7 and 8 for trial.
She warned that the court would take “the necessary step” if the bail conditions were violated.
The judge also said the warning was applicable to the prosecution.
As the court was about to adjourn, Falana called on the judge to implore the prosecution to make available for the defence the details of all documents and witnesses to be brought by the prosecution.
“We will also subpoena some of their people, including the President,” Falana said.
Falana had insisted that the use of the word, “revolution” was not a criminal offence in Nigeria, referring to when President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2011, called for a revolution like the one that took place in Egypt.
He said, “In the entire gamut of the submission of the complainant, the allegation is that the first defendant (Sowore) was going to overthrow the government of Nigeria through protests.
“He was not even accused of training people to overthrow government in Ghana like Chief Obafemi Awolowo when he was charged with treasonable felony. In this case, no training and, no contact with any soldier were alleged.
“We have shown that leaders of the ruling party (the All Progressives Congress) have been calling for a revolution.
“In 2011, Mr President called for a revolution like the violent Egyptian revolution.
“We submit with profound respect that the use of the word ‘revolution’ has not been criminalised in Nigeria.
“When President Buhari called for revolution, he was never arrested or prosecuted.”
On September 24, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, who earlier on August 8, granted the DSS permission to hold the activist for 45 days which elapsed on September 21, ordered that Sowore should be released on the condition that he deposited his passport with the court’s registry.
But despite Sowore meeting the bail condition on September 25, the DSS refused to release him.
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