Posted by News Express | 24 November 2019 | 665 times
The arrest of the convener of #revolutionnow rally and presidential candidate of the Action Alliance Congress in the 2019 general election, Omoyele Sowore, on August 6, 2019 was greeted with shock by most Nigerians. Personally, however, I saw this as a melodrama and another of the many “political malfeasances” of this present government; which is rather just the revelation of the fascism facade in easy-going, humorous, stern, so-called corruption-fighting and populist Muhammadu Buhari administration. We are here because we fell for President’s New Man branding far back 2015.
Fundamental rights of Nigerians have been crushed and shattered all in the name of national interest and greater good. But, if we recall the comment of the great philosopher Karl Max, on his own opinion of national interest. He postulated there is nothing like national interest, but only group interest. What national interest is served when court orders are flagrantly disobeyed by Secret Police. The signal such obnoxious act sends to the international community or would-be investors who are already scared off ten-foot pole, the territorial habitation of the most populous black nation due to the many insecurity issues, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of competent manpower expertise and all others for public corporate representation reasons as a Nigerian won’t suffice to be stated, absence of rule of law, which have recorded a little progress few years back has now slid back into the confines of decline.
Sowore’s case has played into the rhythm of the high-pitch playing autarchy and fascist music Nigeria stereo has been buzzing. It’s not cool when you are the one on the present government’s list of “remain in incarceration”. Only those behind bars really understand how depressing it is when your fundamental right to liberty is denied. Sowore’s ordeal started August when Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Lagos granted a motion exparte order legalising his detention for more than thirty days, pending when the Department of State Security (DSS) – as his jailers call themselves – completes investigation of allegations on treason, terrorism and money laundering claim the latter were eager to make him pay for.
It was a long time behind bars in the DSS cell. And serving time with Boko Haram terrorists as cell mates isn't cool, you know. He has been kept incommunicado. He could only make calls to family members, which was monitored, according to his wife who spoke to the international media on his state of affairs in the DSS gulag. The detention order elapsed. And with the committed efforts of Femi Falana and other Senior Advocates of Nigeria who put upon themselves the fight to get him released. A vacation judge then refused to hear the bail application for his release and redirected it to the judge that gave his detention order, Justice Taiwo. But the learned Senior Advocate Femi Falana reminded the judge of the days of MKO Abiola, whom he was representing then as a counsel, facing treasonable charges as well and how bail was granted to him.
Maybe, the motion paper affidavit in support and brief of argument didn't really sway the judge, but the pendulum of nostalgia he was dragged into may have compelled him to grant bail on the most liberal terms, and asked counsel to produce the defendants whenever the prosecution needed him for trial.
Like the mind’s eye-view of the devil you may have when he is laughing at your celebration of victory and you don’t know the cul-de-sac he has in store for you, the DSS quickly arraigned Sowore before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja. He was granted bail which was absolutely stringent, maybe, the judge thought he was rich and asked him to deposit some millions with the court as part of conditions for his bail. After whining and pinning by his counsel, and his failure to meet bail conditions, the judge was moved by the “equitable spirits” of his court to relax the bail conditions. Obviously, the judge got a feel that the young man isn't that opulent and connected as she thought. It took more than a week to meet this bail conditions newly granted. The bail conditions were finally met on September 6, 2019. The DSS had made previous statement promising to release him if he met bail conditions and reinstating its un-existing practical policy on respecting court orders: Dasuki Sambo and Sheik el Zakzaky are popular references. We don’t know of others who do not enjoy media coverage and followership that have got tons of court orders locally and transnational to be released on bail, but maybe “their sureties are yet to come for them at the DSS office.”
As at the time of writing this article, a week has passed and it’s been back and forth in the media between lawyers, sureties, well-wishers of Sowore and the DSS on why he hasn’t been released. One speech has been edited twice to justify his continued detention. No one really knows the fate of Sowore, just like his fellow detainees with the DSS, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd) and Sheik el Zakzaky. They sit in their cells everyday expecting the day of liberation and when they will breathe the air of freedom and walk free from their captors. In Nigeria, people walk free from prison, especially political prisoners, to the presidential palace. The case of former President Olusegun Obasanjo is still fresh in our minds on his re-emergence as an executive president after languishing behind prison walls, following the death of his chief captor, Sanni Abacha and hand over to civilian government in 1996. We are still watching the melodrama and the role the government is playing in making Sowore become a hero with increasing local and international empathy wave.
•Tasheyon writes from Lagos and could be reached on: Amosisaactobi@gmail.com
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