OPINION: Sowore's Rearrest: "The Unanswered Questions" By Michael Onjewu
Nigerians were thrown into a state of shock and disbelief when operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, December 6 to effect the rearrest of Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement.
This comes less than 24 hours after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ordered the release of the activist and his co-defendant Olawale Bakare on bail. The judge also imposed an N100,000 fine on DSS for refusing to obey previous orders on Sowore's release after meeting all bail conditions.
Sowore who is charged for treason, money laundering and cyberstalking was first arrested by the DSS on August 3, after calling for a revolution to overthrow the government of President Buhari.
His rearrest sparked outrage and criticisms from Nigerians and the international community who decried the alleged invasion and desecration of the court by the DSS to arrest the former presidential candidate.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar in his reaction called for an investigation into the incidence:
"Today, I am in extreme anguish of spirit having watched the unfortunate drama that played itself out at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in which agents of the state caused a commotion in court in order to frustrate a judgment of a court of competent authority.
"I call for an immediate inquiry to be set up to identify those responsible for the maltreatment meted out to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and the desecration of her court, and indeed the Nigerian judiciary. They must be sanctioned to the highest extent permissible by our laws."
D. Joe Abah in his reaction berated the DSS for disrupting court proceedings to effect Sowore's rearrest:
"I honestly cannot understand why the DSS would disrupt a court sitting to re-arrest Sowore inside the court. You cannot even arrest a legislator on the floor of the National Assembly. Some things are simply not done. This is one of those things."
The Presidency while justifying the rearrest likened Sowore's agitations to that of Boko Haram insurgents.
"….Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS. Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.
"The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution."
Femi Falana, Sowore's lawyer in his reaction described the rearrest of Sowore within the premises of the court as "extremely embarrassing because it has never happened before in the history of Nigeria."
The DSS has however denied reports that it invaded the federal high court to effect the rearrest of Sowore.
According to a statement by Peter Afunaya, Sowore on sighting DSS operatives after the adjournment of the case by Justice Ojukwu immediately ran into the courtroom to resist arrest. Afunaya added that Sowore's supporters then mobbed him while chanting 'you can't arrest him' leading to the pandemonium that ensued.
From the clip above, it is apparent that there were no DSS operatives in the courtroom. The man on black suit under Sowore looks like a lawyer to me.
According to the secret police, Sowore was rearrested over fresh comments he made upon his release last Friday which is inimical to national security.
"On December 5 when Sowore was released, he had, at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, addressed a group of persons, who he reassured of his cause to create anarchy in the country," a statement from DSS reads.
From a personal standpoint, the drama that ensued on the 6th of December has left behind more questions than answers.
- Why was there a stampede inside the courtroom?
- Did officials of the DSS invade the courtroom with guns?
- What is the real reason why Sowore was rearrested?
- Who is the tall man on black suit under Sowore during the courtroom drama?
- Will the DSS press fresh charges against Sowore?
- Was the DSS professional in the arrest of Sowore?
- What happens to the court order on Sowore's release?
Depending on which side of the divide you belong, the show of shame exhibited at the court last Friday shame of Friday would have been avoided if the DSS conducted itself more professionally.
They can rearrest Sowore if he is found wanting but attempting to and doing it at the premises of the court, a few hours after bail with all the drama is totally unacceptable.
The DSS must come clear and tell Nigerians why Sowore was rearrested despite being granted bail by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of yans.ng.