DSS rearrests Sowore, Bakare shortly after release as SERAP condemns action/ Sowore

The Department of State Services (DSS) has rearrested Convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore alongside his co-accused Olawale Bakare.

Their rearrest is coming less than 24-hours after they were released by the secret police at about 7:15pm on Thursday.

Sowore and Bakare appeared at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday to continue their ongoing trial bordering on alleged treasonable felony and cyber-stalking.

But operatives of the DSS had invaded the court to rearrest the Sowore and Bakare. The development had generated an atmosphere of confusion with lawyers and the judge reportedly scampering for safety.

After much dragging, Sowore and Bakare were whisked away from the court premises by the DSS.

The development has been generating controversies, with many Nigerians condemning the action of the secret police, describing it as anti-democratic.

Commenting on development, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a statement through its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the DSS action was “a blatant attack on the rule of law and the sanctity and integrity” of Nigeria's justice system.

SERAP “strongly condemned the violent re-arrest today of Omoyele Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare by officials of the State Security Service (SSS), and the apparent harassment and intimidation of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu,” the statement reads.

“The appalling invasion of the courtroom and the ill-treatment of Sowore and Bakare is a blatant attack on the rule of law and the sanctity and integrity of our justice system. An independent judiciary, free from intimidation and harassment is a basic precondition to a functioning democracy under the rule of law.

“The violent re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare right inside the courtroom is a textbook case of a mockery of justice and abuse of the judicial process. It drives home the failure of the Nigerian government to fulfill its constitutional and international human rights obligations to respect citizens’ human rights and observe the rule of law.”

“What happened in the courtroom is a fatal blow to human rights and the independence and integrity of the judiciary. SERAP is seriously concerned that the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari is not observing fundamental international human rights and due process standards.”

“We urge the Nigerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and Bakare and end the fragrant attack on the rule of law.

“If Nigerian authorities are serious about human rights and the rule of law, they should hold those responsible to account. Only then will Nigerians have full confidence in this government’s ability to protect their human rights, obey the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.”

“The United Nations Human Rights Council, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and members of the international community should urgently put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to end serious violations and abuses of human rights and threats to the rule of law in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, Sowore has disclosed during an interview with journalists in the courtroom that the DSS had earlier threatened him that he will not walk out of its custody alive.

“It might be my only word on the record before they kill me; this is an attempt to assassinate me in court. They came with guns and they tried to shoot and they dragged me down in front of a judge after I have been granted bail,” Premium Times quoted him as saying in a video during an interview in the courtroom.

“I said it that these are a bunch of lawless people and they were reluctant to respect the order of the court. Now they have shown it to the whole world.

“They tried to break me in prison, sent delegations to me, offering all kinds of things and I refused and they promised that I will not walk out of their detention alive and that is what they have come to implement today.

“What is important for Nigerians to know is that I am not going to give up until every Nigerian benefits from a country that is theirs and I have made it very clear.

“Nobody in Nigeria should be afraid, it is our country and some people have to make the sacrifice for this country to be a country of rule, law and of dignity; and this also involves even judges. If suspects who have been given bail are not safe in court, the judges themselves are not safe.

“That is why the judge had to retire hurriedly into her chambers. We urge you to hang around so that you can witness this historic day in Nigeria.”