Court orders immediate release of Sowore, seizes passport

Omoyele Sowore

The immediate release of the convener of #RevolutionNow protest,  Omoyele Sowore, from the custody of the Department of State Services has been ordered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
The judge said the activist should be released to his lawyer,  Femi Falana (SAN).
The judge however said since charges had already been filed against Sowore, he must deposit his passport with the court to guarantee his availability for trial.
He ordered that the passport should be deposited with the court’s registry within 48 hours.
Justice  Taiwo said since the order permitting the DSS to keep Sowore  for 45 days had expired, the candidate of the African Action Congress  for the February 23 presidential poll should have been released immediately.
The judge said, “It is a fact that there is no longer an extant order for the detention of the respondent as of today.
“It is also a fact that the application for the extension of the detention order has been withdrawn.
“It is also a fact that criminal charges have been filed against the respondent in the registry of this court.
“There is no doubt that this court is a court of justice which must be seen to uphold the rule of law.
“The right to liberty of the high and the low as well as the poor and the rich is guaranteed in the constitution.
“I’m of the view that the respondent ought to be released forthwith, in view of the fact that there is no extant order for his further detention.
“However, since charges have been filed against the respondent, his release must be on terms.
“The respondent must deposit his passport with the registry of this court within 48 hours.
“The respondent shall be released to Mr Femi Falana.
“Mr Femi Falana shall ensure that the respondent is produced in court for his arraignment whenever he is needed.”
Falana, after the proceedings, said that he would comply with the court’s instructions.
The  prosecution lawyer, G.A. Agbadua, had withdrawn the DSS’ application seeking to  detain  Sowore for 20 more days.
Agbadua’s request for the withdrawal of the said application was based on the fact that charges had been filed against the publisher of Sahara Reporters.
Falana also withdrew Sowore’s application for bail filed on September 13 on the grounds that it had become academic since the detention order had expired.
Justice Taiwo heard the arguments and counter-arguments on the request for Sowore’s release, which Falana based on the expiration of the 45 days allowed for the DSS to detain his client and the withdrawal of the DSS’ extension application.
Falana  said  the order issued by the court on August 8, permitting the DSS to hold the activist for 45 days expired on September 21.
He urged the court to issue a consequential order releasing Sowore immediately.
But Agbadua said since the charges had been filed against  Sowore on September 20, it was lawful to continue to keep him until he was arraigned.
But Falana said in response, “Filing of charges cannot metamorphose into a detention order.
He added, “A citizen cannot detain a citizen in anticipation of arraignment.”
In  his ruling, Justice Taiwo agreed with Falana by ordering the immediate release of Sowore from custody.
Falana confirmed the Tuesday’s court order had been served on the DSS but his client isyet to be released by them.
“As I am speaking with you, he has not been released. But we have strong hope that he will be released tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.

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