The Bwari FCT branch of the Nigerian Bar Association popularly known as “Capital Bar” has released a strong statement condemning the continued detention of the Convener of the #Revolution Now Movement, Omoyele Sowore.
In a press release made available to BarristerNG, the Capital Bar outlined the numerous times the Executive have failed to obey the orders of court and called upon the CJN, Hon. Justice M. Tanko to fulfil his promise of zero tolerance to disobedience to rule of law and speak truth to power.
Below is the powerful PRESS RELEASE
_”The King should be under no man but God and the law – for the law has made him king” – Henry de Bracton – On the laws and customs of England._
On the 24th September, 2019, Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted bail to Omoyele Sowore, the Convener of the #Revolution Now Movement#and the publisher of Sahara Reporters.
The same Justice Taiwo had earlier granted the request of the DSS vide its Exparted Application to detain Mr. Sowore for 45 days following the allegations by the DSS that Sowore planned to overrun/topple or unsit a constitutional government through an unconstitutional means.
At the expiration of the 45 days, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, acting under his inherent powers and exercising his unfettered discretion, granted bail to Sowore because the alleged offence is bailable. Justice Taiwo granted Sowore bail on that day particularly because the FG withdrew its Exparte Application for an extension of the Sowore’s detention. Therefore, there was nothing before the Judge to allow the continued detention of Sowore.
Everyone was happy when the Court made the pronouncement of bail and ordered that the lead defence Counsel, Femi Falana, SAN produce Sowore whenever he was needed and that Sowore should deposit his International Passport with the Registry of the Court.
Surprisingly, Sowore was not released even though he met his bail conditions barely 24hrs after the order and the Enrolled Order of Court was served on the FG through the DSS.
To make matters worse, the social media and other Print Media are awash with news that the FG has filed a petition against Justice Taiwo for what it referred to as “Judicial Misconduct” for granting bail to Sowore, allegedly for abuse of his discretionary powers.
The Capital Bar is seriously disturbed by the recurring brazen assault on the judiciary by the Federal government. The refusal to release Sowore and the petition of Justice Taiwo to the NJC is one case of intimidation of the Judiciary too many.
Recall that in October, 2016, the Federal Government, in a gangster-like manner invaded the homes of judges at ungodly hours and arrested them like common criminals for alleged corruption. The government accused the judges of all manner of offences and gave the world the impression that the judges had millions of dollars and other foreign currencies in their possessions. These judges were later discharged and acquitted for want of evidence.
Earlier on the 12th December, 2015, more than 300 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (mostly women and children) were massacred in cold-bloood in Kaduna State for ‘blocking/preventing’ the Chief of Army Staff and his convoy from passing the Highway and the leader of the Movement and his wife were arrested and detained. Courts granted bail to the leader of that group, Sheikh El-zak Zakki and his wife but the Federal Government flouted the orders on several occasions to the extent that El-zak Zakki and his wife were left in the facility of the DSS for more than 4 years before they were eventually charged to Court in Kaduna State.
The case of Dasuki is not different. Courts in Nigeria including the ECOWAS Court have ordered the FG to release Dasuki on bail but the Federal Government has vehemently refused to obey the Courts.
On the 25th January, 2019, the same FG removed a sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in the most bizarre and unconstitutional circumstances that this Country has never witnessed before and replaced him unconstitutionally with the current CJN. The dust of the controversial removal of Justice Onnoghen and the subsequent ‘appointment’ of Justice Mohammed Tanko is yet to settle and now, this Sowore matter is in the news again.
We could go on and on to give instances of Executive rascality and assault of the FG on the Judiciary in the last 4 years plus.
It is in the light of the foregoing that the Capital Bar (Bwari Branch) condemn in strong terms the present action of the FG for flagrantly refusing to honour the order of a competent Court for the release of Sowore and the plans by the same FG to refer Justice Taiwo to the NJC for ‘judicial misconduct’ simply because the Judge refused to do its biddings but stood firm for justice, equity and good conscience. .
We lack the proper adjective with which to describe the current actions of the FG – we leave that for the grammarians to do but one thing is glaring from the conduct of the FG. An unbaised bystander will be left with no choice than to draw an irresistable conclusion that the FG has clearly demonstrated to Nigerians and indeed the world at large that its much-talk about “War Against Corruption” and strict adherence to the Rules of Law is a complete farce, a ruse and a tongue-in-cheek.
The action of the FG over Sowore’s matter has further displayed the insincerity of the FG in its self-acclaimed fight against corruption, insurgents etc.
No wonder the likes of Nobel Lauret, Professor Wole Soyinka, described the FG as being “paranoid” over the FG’s continued incarceration of Sowore in spite of an order of Court for his release.
Senator Shehu Sani once described the Buhari led FG succinctly when he said that the FG rides on a Horse to implement a Court order that is in its favour but rides on a tortoise back when the Court’s order is against it.
This government has a penchant for disobeying Courts orders/judgments since its inception. No society can grow when the rules of men prevails over the rules of law. No wonder we are still where we are as a Country without progress – moving from pillar to post; motion without movement.
We therefore call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammed Tanko (who recently assured Nigerians at the just concluded NBA Annual General Conference, 2019 held in Lagos of the firm resolve of the Judiciary under his watch to be fearless and live above board and also recently said that every Court’s order MUST be obeyed) to rise up to this occasion and speak truth to power even if he’s alone but we assure the CJN that he’s NOT alone on this matter. Nigerians and the world are solidly with him.
This is a golden opportunity for the CJN to write his name in gold in the annals of our judicial history considering the circumstances of his emergence as the CJN.
We call on the Bar and the Bench to be united as never before to resist this bully by the executive and speak in unison to condemn this crass and wanton disregard for rules of law under a democratic setup. All over the world, this is how tyrants emerged. Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko etc didn’t become full blown dictators overnight – it was a gradual process like what we are witnessing today. These leaders, incidentally were equally loved by their own people at one time or the other before they took undue advantage of the love their people had for them and metamorphosed into daredevil!
This is the situation we are witnessing today but we must not allow it to degenerate to that point. We as lawyers must shun partisanship, ethnicity, and every form of religious sentiments and be more Nigerian than we have never been and condemn this affront on the judiciary.
We call on the NBA President, Paul Usoro, SAN to cut short his trip in Seol, South Korea to come and address the issues on ground for his own house is on fire back home. We expected a strong statement from the NBA National almost immediately but that didn’t happen.
Today, Sowore is the victim. Tomorrow, you may be next. Let’s not allow our personal love for our leaders becloud our senses of reasoning. We should learn to draw a line between our love for our leaders and our love for our country. Love for the nation should come first.
We should be mindful of the words of Martin Luther King Jnr. when he said, “…the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal”
Finally, we must heed to the warnings of Edmund Burke when he said, All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent”
Therefore, we must speak up in unison to condemn this executive brigandage to avoid the hottest place in hell for our silence is no longer fashionable!
We must demand for the unconditional release of every Nigerian citizen that has been granted bail by the Court no matter the allegations against them. The FG cannot hold the Judiciary to ransom!
AHMED TIJANI YUSUF, ESQ
PUBLICITY SECRETARY, NBA CAPITAL BAR (BWARI BRANCH)
Culled from Barrister NG