For the second time in about one month on Thursday, the Department of State Services failed to obey a court order directing the release of pro-democracy activist and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.
The agency, which was on Thursday morning served with the latest ruling of a Federal High Court, Abuja, by the court’s bailiff and lawyers to Sowore, acknowledged receipt of the document but refused to obey the directive.
As at the time of filing this report, there was no indication that the agency was ready to honour the court order and release Sowore and Olawale Bakare widely known as Mandate, who had been detained in their custody since August 3 and 5, 2019 respectively.
In a precursor to Thursday’s refusal to honour the order issued by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the DSS turned back the court’s bailiff and Sowore’s lawyers on Wednesday at around 4:30pm, claiming that the agency could not attend to the document because they had closed since 3:30pm.
The team was asked to return to the facility at 10:00am on Thursday to serve the court order.
However, several hours since acknowledging receipt of the fresh order to release the two men, the DSS is refusing to do so despite the defendants perfecting their bail conditions.
Court order submitted to the DSS
Recall that the DSS also flouted an order issued by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the same court directing it to release Sowore after he met an initial bail condition set.
In his ruling on September 30, Justice Taiwo had asked Sowore to deposit his international passport with the court as condition for his release by the secret police while setting a date for the commencement of trail on the charges brought against him by the DSS.
But despite meeting that mandate the next day, the secret police refused to release Sowore, instead filing charges of money laundering and cyberstalking President Muhammadu Buhari against him – a development that has continued to attract condemnation from around the world.
Sowore was arrested in Lagos in the early hours of August 3, 2019 by the DSS for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand for a better country from the President Buhari-led administration.
The government views his action as capable of bringing the regime down and has adopted desperate measures to keep him out of circulation for daring to speak truth to power.
In recent times, the DSS has earned a notorious reputation for flouting court orders by continuing to hold on to all those perceived to staunch critics of President Buhari’s regime.