Bature Dan-Inni, Abuja
A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has criticized federal government’s position that it has released #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore and former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki on Compassionate ground.
Falana said that, instead of that, the federal government should rather apologized to both men of illegal detention, saying, “Nigerian government had no right to indefinitely detain a citizen for the offences that Mr Sowore and Mr Dasuki were accused of.”
It could be recalled that following their released, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami had said while answering questions, that Sowore and Dasuki were released based on compassionate ground, a statement which Falana criticized and instead said Malami should apologise to both men for the illegal detention.
Mr Falana also said the Nigerian constitution does not allow the federal government to solely determine what constitutes national security.
Malami had earlier stated that, “The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds,” he had said.
But in a letter addressed to Malami, Falana said only the president and state governors are entitled to exercise the prerogative of mercy or release any convicted person on compassionate grounds.
The letter read in part: “It is trite law that once a trial court has granted bail to any person standing trial for any offence whatsoever and the bail conditions have been met the detaining authority shall release the person from custody without any further ado,” he said.
“In other words, the refusal to release a defendant who has been admitted to bail by a trial judge is tantamount to contempt of court. Hence, before Sowore’s release we had filed Forms 48 and 49 for the committal of the Director-General of the State Security Service to prison for contempt of court,” it added.
He said a suspect can only be detained beyond 48 hours based on a remand order from a magistrate court, adding: “The government is not permitted to refuse to comply with the order of bail under the pretext of defending the security of the nation.”
Falana said, “Even under the defunct military dictatorship, detaining authorities were not authorized to incarcerate any person for “security reasons” in defiance of court orders,” he said.
“With respect, the federal government has itself to blame for the needless controversy that has trailed the release of the duo. But having belatedly deemed it fit to review your position and advise the federal government in line with the tenets of the rule of law you ought to have apologised to both Sowore and Dasuki.
“That is what is expected of you in accordance with section 32 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. It is not an occasion for grandstanding or arrogant display of power,” he added.
Following the released of Sowore and Dasuki, Falana also urge the federal government to do the right thing by releasing the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenate who have been in illegal detention for four years even as a federal high court judge has exonerated them of any wrong doing and orders for their release.