The decision of the Federal government to successfully obtain an exparte order from a Federal High Court anchored on the anti-terrorism Act against the leader of the Revolution Now protest movement Omoyele Sowere has been described as the height of executive recklessness and abuse of power.
Making the declaration against the backdrop of the order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High court based on the application against Mr. Sowere by the Department of State Services (DSS) under the provision of section 27(1) of the Terrorism (prevention) amendment Act, the Rights group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said the action of the federal government to even institute the charge against Mr. Sowere only for planning to call for a nationwide civil protests devoid of violence whereas the same government is actively dialoguing with armed bandits in Zamfara and has on many occasions freed arrested hardened terrorists of the Boko haram terror networks and armed flank herdsmen under the deceptive guise of being deradicalised, amounted to a flagrant breach of the constitutional oath of office sworn to by president Buhari and is a violation of section 15(5) of the constitution which obliges government to eschew abuse of power.
HURIWA also stated that since the presiding judge has the discretionary powers of bail, he ought to have exercised that in favour of Mr. Sowere who is totally non-violent since even section 36(5) of the constitution which is higher in status to the anti-terrorism Act stated unambiguously that: “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty”.
HURIWA said the Judge can not therefore be heard saying that he can’t exercise his discretionary powers to grant bail to Omoyele SOWORE who as far available information is concerned is a non violent agitator for good governance. Judges are granted judicial discretion to grant or refuse bail. This means that the issue of bail is at the discretion of the Judge. This is by virtue of section 118, 119;120;123 and 125 of the criminal code Act of 1016, cap 38 (1988);2NWLR (Part 78) 602 @610 and section 120 of Criminal PROCEDURE Act.
HURIWA expressed disappointing shock at the granting of the prolonged detention of SOWORE thus: “Are we no longer living under a constitutional democracy? Why keep a citizen for more than a month when the constitution recognizes that he is innocent until proven guilty? We are shocked at the rate of institutionalization of injustice and unfairness by president Buhari who on one hand has authorized dialogues with armed bandits and terrorists who have killed over 27,000 Nigerians whereas he has instructed the Department of State Services (DSS) working under him to file charges of terrorism against a blogger and an activist Mr. Omoyele Sowore who is alleged to have expressed the determination of his platform named “Revolution Now” to stage a nation-wide civil protests to agitate for fundamental changes in the state of insecurity in Nigeria”.
“Is the judge now over-ruling the plethora of supreme court decisions which are to the considered effect that the granting of bail is within the discretion of the presiding judge?” By the way, why should the court or any government agency such as DSS hide under some nebulous provisions of a statute to subject a citizen to the denial of his fundamental freedoms of movement and liberty even when the constitution says he is innocent until the court determines otherwise?”
“Why arrest a citizen if you as an agency of government has yet to wrap up your investigations? Who pays for the denial of his freedoms if the investigation turns up constructively positive in the favour of the man whose civil liberty is being caged courtesy of a misapplication of the law?”
“The decision of this Federal High court will surely undermine civil liberty and the constitutional freedoms because for the government to simply pick up someone it considers as a dissident and without enough evidence to now walk leisurely into the Federal High Court after days of illegally detaining the citizen and successfully get the nod of the court to continue to embark on a voyage of discovery and search for any sort of evidence whereas the freedoms of the detainee is being infringed upon is a set back to the years of civil rule that we have witnessed.”
“If the court is no longer the hope of the common man since the oppressive government can simply and arbitrarily arrest its opponents and bring up any sort of charges and still succeed in getting the court to permit the prolonged detention of a citizen, so the government can go about seeking to procure evidence no matter how contrived then we are doomed as a nation. The judiciary must not be part of the reactionary elements that seek to destroy constitutional democracy ”.