ATTORNEY-general of the federation Abubakar Malami has ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to hands-off the prosecution of detained pro-democracy activist and Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore and leave the matter to his office.
Sowore, 47, was released on bail last week Thursday after spending 125 days in detention when the DSS was forced to obey a court order granting him bail. Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu of the federal high court in Abuja had fined the DSS N100,000 for not obeying her order to release Sowore despite him meeting all the bail conditions.
Left with no other option, the DSS let Mr Sowore go but on the following day Friday, when he appeared in court as the substantive hearing continued, security men were waiting for him. Heavily-armed DSS operatives disrupted the court proceedings, drove away Mr Sowore’s lawyer Femi Falana and chased Justice Ojukwu out of the courtroom at gun point.
Both internationally and at home, the actions of the DSS have attracted widespread condemnation as it is seen as a breach of the rule of law. Rocked by the criticism, Mr Malami said he has directed the DSS to forward the case file in respect of the charge pending against Mr Sowore before the federal high court in Abuja, to his office.
Umar Gwandu, Mr Malami’s spokesman, said: “As part of deliberate efforts to probe emerging issues related to the recent imbroglio related to Omoyele Sowore’s case and for speedy dispensation of justice, the attorney-general and minister of justice has requested that the case file in respect of charge pending before the federal high court, Abuja be forwarded to his office.”
He added that the request for the transfer of the case was contained in a letter dated December 11 and addressed to the director-general of the DSS in Abuja. Dayo Apata, the solicitor-general of the federation and the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, signed the letter on behalf of Mr Malami.
Already, the Senior Advocates of Nigeria has called for the setting up of an independent judicial commission of enquiry to unravel those behind the courtroom invasion. DSS officials have claimed that they did not invade the courtroom and the whole drama was orchestrated by Mr Sowore’s supporters.