Presidency defends DSS action on Sowore

…DSS team leader apologised to Justice Ojukwu over court invasion, says Falana

The Presidency has said that detained activist, Omoyele Sowore, is a person of interest to a security organ like the Department of State Services (DSS), which does not need the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari to do its work whenever it needs to act.

The Presidency said in a statement by spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, on Sunday, that Sowore’s antecedents and actions ordinarily made him a person of interest to the DSS.

It said so far the agency had acted within its constitutional powers and did not need to seek Buhari’s approval to act on security matters.

The Presidency was reacting to media reports on Friday’s re-arrest of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protests.

It noted that no government would fold its alms and allow a country to be destabilised under it.

The Presidency also said Sowore was no ‘ordinary citizen’ expressing his rights as perceived by the public but a former presidential candidate and convener of revolution protests against a democratic government.

“The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

“However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS”, the Presidency added.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday refuted the Department of State Service’s claim that its operatives did not disrupt proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in their bid to rearrest his client, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, on Friday.

Falana said in a statement that, contrary to the DSS’ denial, issued on Saturday, the leader of the DSS team of operatives who invaded the court tendered an apology for their conduct when summoned after the incident by the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.

He said the DSS operatives were unable to defend their conduct, hence their subsequent apology to the judge, who was forced to adjourn cases on her list following the invasion.

He described the Saturday statement issued by the agency’s spokesperson as “self-contradictory press release” and “an unsuccessful attempt” to absolve itself of responsibility “for the armed invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, in general, and the desecration of Court No 7 of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in particular, as well as the illegal rearrest of Omoyele Sowore”.

He stated, “By the advantage of information technology, the whole world has placed responsibility for the gangsteric desecration of the court on the DSS.

“The DSS cannot extricate itself from the abominable acts of December 6, 2019.

“When I informed the court that fresh charges were being filed against our clients and that they could be rearrested, the prosecution denied any such plan.

“As soon as the case was adjourned, the DSS pounced on Sowore and caused a disruption of the proceedings of the court.

“Having taken over the court room, Justice Ojukwu hurriedly rose and asked the registrar to adjourn all other cases.

“After the learned trial judge had risen for the day, she summoned the heads of the prosecution and defence teams to her chambers.

“When the lead prosecutor, Dr. Liman Hassan (SAN), denied knowledge of the invasion of her court, she directed him to invite the head of the DSS team in the court.

“When challenged to justify the invasion of the court, the officer could not.

“He apologised to Justice Ojukwu on behalf of the DSS.

“The judge then directed the officer to withdraw the DSS operatives from the court room.

“The directive was complied with, as the operatives withdrew from the court room but rushed out to join their colleagues who had taken over the entire court house.”

He noted that the agency’s operatives’ “abominable desecration” of the court was covered live by domestic and international media and journalists, some of whom he said were victims of the operatives’ acts of “gangsterism, barbarism and brutalisation.”

He called for the immediate release of Sowore and other political detainees as well as all criminal suspects that had been granted bail.

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