…Say Desecration of Judiciary Ominous Former Vice President, Mr Atiku Abubakar, Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and former World Bank Vice President, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili have slammed the invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja by gun wielding operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) in an attempt to re-arrest Convener of RevolutionNow
…Say Desecration of Judiciary Ominous
Former Vice President, Mr Atiku Abubakar, Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and former World Bank Vice President, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili have slammed the invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja by gun wielding operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) in an attempt to re-arrest Convener of RevolutionNow Protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, also publisher of Sahara Reporters, was manhandled as the SSS agents caused commotion in court, making the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to flee, raising serious questions about the country’s democratic credentials under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and lawyer to Sowore and his associate, Mr Olawale Bakare narrates the build-up to the re-arrest by the DSS at the court barely 24 hours after their release on Thursday after 124 days in DSS custody.
“This morning, the SSS lawyers and the lawyers of the Attorney-General reported to the court that the order of the court had been complied with and I confirmed because our clients were released last night.
“As soon as the court adjourned the matter till February next year, the SSS operatives pounced on the court, disrupted proceeding and then attempted to arrest our clients even in the web of the court, that was extremely embarrassing because it has never happened in Nigeria where you enter a court to arrest anybody, even an alleged coup plotter.
“The atmosphere was very rowdy, but I insisted that the arrest could not be carried out within the precinct of the court.
“He was going to be arrested outside the premises but there was a crowd that resisted the arrest, but I appealed to everybody and asked Sowore to jump into my car and so we drove to the office of the SSS because they said he will just answer a few questions, but now he is being detained.
“We are going to take steps under the law by asking for his release again since they are claiming this is a fresh arrest.
“Nobody has disclosed yet what his charges are; he couldn’t have committed any other offence because he has been detained for the past four months unless the SSS wants to tell the whole world that he committed this fresh offence while in their custody,” he stressed.
Mr. Sowore and Mr Bakare who were released at about 7:15 pm on Thursday are facing seven counts bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, money laundering and cybercrimes, amongst others.
Atiku in a statement titled “Without Rule of Law, There Cannot Be Rule At All,” says,
“Today, I am in extreme anguish of spirit having watched the unfortunate drama that played itself out at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in which agents of the state caused a commotion in court in order to frustrate a judgment of a court of competent authority.
“Never in the history of Nigerian democracy has a judge been treated in such a disdainful and brazen attack on not just her person and office, but on the entire judiciary. This is unacceptable. It is a rape on the sanctity of the court. Nigeria is not a dictatorship. We are a democracy, no matter how inconvenient this fact is to the powers that have forced themselves on us.
“I call for an immediate inquiry to be set up to identify those responsible for the maltreatment meted out to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and the desecration of her court, and indeed the Nigerian judiciary. They must be sanctioned to the highest extent permissible by our laws.
“I further call for all law enforcement agencies in Nigeria to immediately respect not just the court order made by Justice Ojukwu, but the order of any court in Nigeria, on any detainee, be it Omoyele Sowore, Sambo Dasuki or Ibrahim Zakzaky, among others.
“We cannot have a situation where our government is quick to obey foreign court orders and even quicker to disobey domestic court orders. This is symptomatic of a mindset that is servile to foreign powers and brutal to Nigerians.
“Without the rule of law, there can be no rule at all. Power in Nigeria still flows from the people, not from the barrel of a gun. I call on all men and women of goodwill not to keep quiet or sit on the fence at times like this.
“To keep Nigeria a democracy is the paramount duty of all concerned stakeholders. Please speak up against this tyranny and side with the Nigerian people.
Prof Soyinka also took a swipe on the DSS over the re-re-arrest of Sowore and likened their behaviour to “African wild dogs!”
He warned: “May I remind this government that disobedience calls to disobedience, and that disobedience of the orders of the constitutional repository of the moral authority of arbitration – the judiciary – can only lead eventually to a people’s disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society, a state of desperation that is known, recognized and accepted as – civil disobedience.”
In his statement titled, “Lessons From The African Wild Dog (Lycaeon Pictus)”, Soyinka says,
“A few years ago, I watched the video of a pack of the famed African wild dogs hunt, eventually bring down, and proceed to devour a quarry. It was an impala, antelope family. The pack isolated the most vulnerable looking member of the herd – it was pregnant – pursued it, until it fled to a waterhole which, for such animals, is the nearest thing to a sanctuary.
“A few minutes ago, almost as it was happening, I watched the video of a pack of the DSS, bring down, and fight over their unarmed, totally defenceless quarry within the sanctuary of a court of law. I found little or no difference between the two scenarios, except that the former, the wild dogs, exhibited more civilized table manners than the DSS in court manners.
“Only yesterday (Thursday), in my commentary on the ongoing Sowore saga, I pointed out the near perfect similarity between plain crude thuggery and the current rage of court disobedience. Little did I suspect that the state children of disobedience would aspire to the level of the African wild dogs on a pack hunt.
“I apologize for underestimating the DSS capacity for the unthinkable. I reiterate the nation’s concern, indeed alarm, about the escalating degradation of the Judiciary through multiple means, of which disobedience of court orders is fast becoming the norm.
“May I remind this government that disobedience calls to disobedience, and that disobedience of the orders of the constitutional repository of the moral authority of arbitration – the judiciary – can only lead eventually to a people’s disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society, a state of desperation that is known, recognized and accepted as – civil disobedience.
“It is so obvious – state disobedience leads eventually to civil disobedience, piecemeal or through a collective withdrawal of recognition of other structures of authority. That way leads to chaos but – who set it in motion? As is often the case, the state, unquestionably. Such a state bears full responsibility for the ensuing social condition known as anomie.
“It has become imperative and urgent to send this message to President-General Buhari: Rein in your wild dogs of disobedience. And for a start, get a trainer to teach them some basic court manners!”, Soyinka says.
Reacting on Twitter, Ezekwesill, also a former Education Minister wrote, “President @MBuhari, the whole world is watching the video of officials of the State Security Service which you directly supervise, brutally violate the constitutional rights of a citizen @YeleSowore inside a court and desecrated our Judiciary- an independent arm of government.
“I urge my fellow citizens who are reasonable enough to know that today’s episode amounts to full aggression against the Judiciary by the Executive arm of @MBuhari and portends an extremely dangerous development. We must all stand to defend our hard-won Democracy. We must,” she says..