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UPDATED: Court Orders DSS to Release Sowore

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to forthwith grant freedom to detained convener of #RevolutionNow protest,Omoyele Sowore.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a ruling on Tuesday, directed that Sowore, who was also presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) in the last presidential election, be handed to his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who is to produce him for arraignment whenever he is required.
Justice Taiwo further directed that, since a charge has already been filed against Sowore, he should deposit his passport and other travel documents to ensure his availability for trial.
The judge noted that the court’s earlier order, made on August 8, 2019, permitting the DSS to detain Sowore for 45 days in the first instance, expired on September 21, 2019.
He added that since the DSS withdrew its application, in which it had sought the renewal of the detention order for another 20 days, there is no longer any existing order of court for his continued detention by the DSS.
The ruling was upon an application for bail raised by Falana earlier on Tuesday.
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) filed a seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against Sowore and Olawale Adebayo Bakare (aka Mandate) on Friday.
The charge is marked: FHC/ ABJ/CR/235/2019.
Falana, at the commencement of proceedings, withdrew the application he had filed for his client’s bail, on the grounds that it was overtaken by events.
He was of the view that since Sowore has not been charged with terrorism, there was no basis for the application to be moved.
Falana thereafter, prayed the court to order his client’s release from DSS’ custody, since its earlier order, permitting the DSS to detain him for 45 days expired by since September 21.
He also noted that since the DSS equally withdrew its application for the renewal of the detention order, there was no competent subsisting order of court for Sowore’s continued detention.
Falana said: “Since the application for the renewal of the detention of the respondent has been withdrawn and struck out by the court, we urged the court to make an order for the immediate release of the respondent from custody in line with section 35 of the 1999 constitution.
“In addition, since the order of this court made on August 8, 2019 for the detention of the respondent by the DSS for 45 days has expired by exclusion of time, the implication is that as from today, there is no order of a competent court for the remand or further detention of the applicant.
“Furthermore, the initial order for his detention for 45 days was predicated on the information that he was been investigated for terrorism.
“However, from the seven-count information against the respondent, there is nothing like terrorism,” Falana said.
In a counter-argument, lawyer to the DSS, Godwin Abadua drew the court’s attention to the charge file against Sowore.
Agbadua argued that the offence with which Sowore is charged is a capital offence by the provision of Section 161 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, which he noted, provides that a person arrested and detained for an offence punishable with death can only be admitted to bail by a judge of the High Court under exceptional circumstances.
He contended that since a charge has been filed, in compliance with constitutional provision, it was only the court that could determine whether or not, a person’s right to freedom of movement should be restrained in certain circumstances.
Agbadua further contended that the moment a charge is filed against a person, such a person cannot be said to be illegally detained.
Replying on point of law, Falana urged the court to ignore Agabdua’s submissions on the grounds that mere filling of a charge cannot be equated to a remand order.
He said the DSS’ lawyer misled the court when he said that the respondent was charged with terrorism, which is a capital offence.
Falana added that the DSS cannot ask the court to detain a citizen in anticipation of his arraignment based on a charge filed.
He urged the court to hold that since the order has expired and in view of the withdrawal of the application by the DSS for its renewal, the respondent should be released from detention.
Upon the court’s ruling, directing Sowore’s release, his supporters, who thronged the court went wild in jubilation.

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