The Department of State Services (DSS) has explained why it re-arrested Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement.
The secret police in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya and made available to us on Saturday said Sowore was not re-arrested because he “resorted to acts inimical to security”.
The statement further disclosed that its officers did not arrest the activist in court, claiming that the journalist’s supporters were only acting an “orchestrated drama”. The security agency said there were none of its officers involved in the incidents recorded in the courtroom.
Read the full statement below:
It has become important that the Department of State Services responds to the serial misinformation being circulated in the media about its involvement in the incident that occurred on 6th December, 2019 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. It is instructive to note that during the court proceeding of the day under reference, Defence Counsel, Femi FALANA (SAN), called the attention of the Judge to a suspicion that the Service was planning to re-arrest Omoyele SOWORE immediately after the court session. The Court discountenanced his alarm and asserted that the Service was law abiding and would not engage in such and subsequently adjourned to February, 2020.
However, when SOWORE stepped out of the court and sighted operatives of the Service within the premises, he ran back into the courtroom. In a bid to shield him from an imaginary arrest, his uncontrollable supporters mobbed him while chanting “you can’t arrest him” thus the pandemonium that ensued.
A critical look at the videos in circulation would convince any objective viewer that there was no DSS personnel during the entire period the Sowore crowd acted out its orchestrated drama. Its personnel were never, at any time, involved in the incident. In actual fact, it was his people who seized him. And from the latest developments, it has become obvious what the intent for such mischief was meant for – simply to serve a propagandist purpose as well as bring the Service to disrepute.
Eye witness and several media accounts have disclosed that the Court had adjourned peacefully without an untoward incident when suddenly the unruly crowd imported into the Courtroom went into frenzy on the mere suspicion that DSS was sighted at the court premises. The eventual re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS was effected outside the courtroom. His lead counsel has affirmed this.
The DSS, as a professional, responsible and law abiding Organization, could not have invaded a courtroom including the one presided over by a respected Judge who is not only handling its case but whose Order was unconditionally obeyed within a 24 hour ultimatum. The Service holds the judiciary in utmost respect and will continue to work with it for national peace and public safety in Nigeria.
It has therefore become unarguable and raises a moral question as to who, between Sowore and the Service, dislikes or disobeys the Courts. In this regard, public attention may be drawn to the 25th July 2019 statement of SOWORE that “I’m not talking of protest. I’m embarking on revolution… Don’t tell me about legal implications or what a Judge will say. I don’t care …” On 5th December when SOWORE was released, he had, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja addressed a group of persons who, he reassured of his cause to create anarchy in the country.
It may be recalled that the Service had on 3rd December, 2019 raised alarm about a plot to destabilize the country. It is quite remarkable that the plot has already started playing out. To ensure this objective is further achieved, some persons and groups are scurrying to seize the opportunity of the misleading court incident and the wrong narrative against the DSS to organize an insurrection in the country. They have continued to falsely curry and mobilize international sentiments and attention, through clear misrepresentation of the facts, for their selfish ends.
For emphasis, it should be noted that SOWORE is facing trial not as an activist, journalist or a politician, but for his resort to call for violence, forceful takeover of government and suspected transnational illegal activities. It is most unfortunate that SOWORE, shortly after being released from custody, based on court order, resorted to acts inimical to security. To this effect, only SOWORE has been re-arrested as his co-defendant, Olawale BAKARE, was not picked up even when FALANA had promised to deliver him to the Service that is not presently interested in him.
Though sections of the populace have been fed with spurious narratives about these developments, Nigerians and the International Community should not be gullible or even vulnerable to the machinations of groups desirous of misleading them.
The Service is committed to the discharge of its mandate of detecting and preventing threats against the internal security of Nigeria. It supports democracy in the country and will do all that is legal to protect it. It will also ensure that efforts of anti-democratic forces are frustrated.
Peter Afunanya, Ph.D
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
7th December, 2019
Prof. Wole Soyinka has called out President Buhari over the re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare at the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Department of State Services, DSS.
Soyinka said it had become imperative and urgent to send 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, in a statement today likened the scene leading to the arrest of Sowore and Bakare in the court premises to that of an African Wild Dog. According to Soyinka, he was amazed by the level of disobedience to court’s order by the present government of Buhari.
“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,” he said.
The Nobel Laureate said only yesterday, in his commentary on the ongoing Sowore saga, he pointed out the near perfect similarity between plain crude thuggery and the current rage of court disobedience, saying that little did he suspected 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.”
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the arrest and subsequent trial of operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security officials involved in the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, made the call in a statement on Saturday barely a day after some DSS operatives stormed the court.
“The Commission directs all the relevant agencies of government to arrest and try all law enforcement officers involved in the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the Federal High Court Abuja on Friday 6th Dec 2019 for contempt in the face of the court.
“They should be tried, and this should serve as a reminder to all law enforcement agents that they must obey the law in carrying out their law enforcement duties,” he said.
Ojukwu added, “They must enforce the law within the law.
“Impunity by law enforcement officials cannot be indulged in our democracy because impunity uproots the very foundation of our constitution and our democracy.”
The NHRC boss said the commission watched with dismay the conduct of law enforcement officers in the court and condemned it in its entirety.
He reiterated the need for law enforcement officials to understand that to qualify as law enforcement agents, they must first of all be law-abiding and not be above the law.
According to the NHRC boss, as officials paid with taxpayers’ money, there must be no room for impunity and utter disregard for the constitution.
“Our democracy is founded on the principle of separation of powers and all citizens including law enforcement officials must understand the implications of that and are enjoined to respect the law and the constitution in the enforcement of the law,” he stressed.
The statement came a day after DSS operatives in at least three pickup trucks stormed the court on Friday to re-arrest Mr Omoyele Sowore who had just been released two days ago.
However, the attempt to make the arrested inside the court was resisted by Sowore and his supporters while a scuffle ensued between both sides.
Sowore’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, who was part of the group that confronted the security operatives informed them that such an operation cannot be carried out in court.
Thereafter, he asked the DSS operatives to go out of the court premises after which he drove Sowore in his vehicle to the DSS office where he was re-arrested and detained.
The Federal Government’s allegation of N135 billion fraud levelled against the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Capital Oil and Gas Limited took a new turn Friday, when it was discovered that the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) allegedly owes Capital Oil N10 billion – being a fine imposed by the Federal High Court Abuja, Presided over by Justice Tsoho, for reneging on an initial agreement the Corporation and the oil company reached.
To this end, the legal team of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is considering filling a contempt of court charges against AMCON, which despite a pending appeal it filed against the judgment of the lower court that fined it N10 billion, turned around to circumvent a contractual agreement to manage the access and liabilities of Capital Oil hence wearing the toga of a debt recovery agency.
According to one of the Senator’s counsels, who said: “About three years ago, AMCON had sent Senator Ifeanyi Ubah documents for the takeover of Capital Oil and Gas Limited and its management which our client signed and the Managing Director of AMCON was aware of and they took over the management of the company.
“We had two judgments of the courts and in one of them the court ruled that for AMCON to have gone against the initial agreement the body has to pay the sum of N10 billion as charges which it is yet to pay and they filed an appeal against the judgment and it is still pending in court and this action of AMCON is contemptuous of that judgment.
“We have a Supreme Court judgment in a matter between Ezeh and Diamond Bank and the apex court ruled that AMCON and EFCC are not debt recovering agencies but AMCON by going to court to place charges that our client committed fraud of 135 Billion is more of AMCON arrogating or usurping the powers of a debt recovering body which they are not.”
Continuing Izuchukwu recalled that the allegation of N135 billion fraud had no bases as according to him Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah had resolved his issues with Coscharis Limited and the matter had been put to rest before now.
“Following the Coscharis Saga, AMCON came into the matter and held a meeting at the Access Bank Solicitors Office to resolve the dispute and AMCON said that they are ready to take up all the facilities of Capital Oil and Gas Company and that of other banks.
“Present at the meeting was the then Executive Director Mr. Okey Nwosu and in conclusion, we resolved that N22 billion is owed Access and that N2 billion would be waved while out of the remaining N20 billion Coscharis takes N4billion while AMCON takes N16 billion on behalf of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd as requested by one Dr. Ekwueme.
“At conclusion, AMCON took on the total liabilities of Capital Oil and Gas as well as all the access of other banks and the collateral on the value was valued.
“AMCON later carried out an independent valuation of the property and if there is a short fall in valuation, Capital Oil will bring additional security.
“When AMCON said there was a short fall, Capital Oil and Gas provided additional security of an oil tank farm which AMCON accepted and part of the agreement was that should AMCON want to sell the property, Capital Oil would be the first option of prospective buyers.
“So the issue of going to court does not arise at this point. AMCON made its own valuation just like Capital Oil and they both resolved the matter,” he said.
Izuchukwu, however, noted that “what has been happening is that AMCON desires to bypass the agreement and resolved to use the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) there by criminalizing the matter because the body knows that they cannot execute their plot through the courts due to the agreement and the job of the EFCC is not to recover depts.
“We are still considering several legal options at the moment because AMCON has committed contempt.”
The fraud case between the Federal Government and Kenneth Amadi, CEO ABD Energy Solutions Limited is scheduled to come up on January 8, 2020.
Justice Liman Mahammad of the Federal High Court, Lagos, fixed the date for the arraignment at a subject suit, which came up on Wednesday, November 27.
Amadi is alleged to have obtained the sum of N2.9billion belonging to his former employer, Eunisell Limited, by false pretence with intent to defraud, from A-Z Petroleum and AMMASCO International Ltd.
The offences are contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, CapA6, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.
When the matter was called for hearing, the 1st defendant was absent, while the 2nd defendant, IDID Nigeria Limited was represented by an employee.
Chief State Counsel from the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, A.K Aliyu informed the Court that attempts were made to serve the charge on the 1st Defendant through his counsel but the lawyer from the office of the learned silk declined to accept service.
However, the defendant’s counsel, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) told the court that they are not opposing arraignment and trial, adding it was an error of communication on the part of the junior colleague regarding the issue of acceptance of service.
He then accepted the charge and court summons of behalf of the 1st Defendant.
The charges against the defendants includes receiving and obtaining by false pretence, with intent to defraud, the sum of N2,900,000,000 belonging to Eunisell Ltd, from A-Z Petroleum Ltd and AMMASCO International Ltd; omitting to making full and true entry thereof in the books and accounts; suppression of data in respect of the financial transfer to Eunisell Ltd; and converting same amount without authority to create sufficient deposits to promote the credibility of his own company (Idid Nigeria Limited).
Robert Menendez, a US senator from New Jersey and member of the senate foreign relations committee, says the events surrounding the rearrest of Omoyele Sowore shows that Nigeria no longer has regards for the rule of law.
On Friday, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) rearrested Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, and Olawale Bakare, an activist, at the federal high court in Abuja less than 24 hours after they were released on the orders of the court.
There were rearrested less than 24 hours after their release after spending 124 days in detention.
Menendez, who said it seems President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware of what the secret police is “doing in his name”, added that Sowore ought to be celebrated and not incarcerated.
He said the development is unacceptable from a country that practices democracy, pushing for a reassessment of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and US.
“The United States is watching and the world is watching. I fear that the blatant harassment of Mr Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime appears to be exercising his right to free expression, is becoming symptomatic of increasingly closing political and civic space in Nigeria,” Menendez said.
“The Nigerian court has twice ordered his release on bail. And the state security agencies openly defied the court order each time leaving me to conclude that either Nigeria no longer respects the rule of law or President Buhari is woefully out of touch with what agents of his governments are doing in his name.
“This is unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy. Journalists who risk their lives to expose the truth should be celebrated, not incarcerated.
“It is unacceptable to that the husband and father of a US citizen with such blatant cruelty. Today, my office contacted our ambassador in Nigeria in an effort to obtain answers on what actions the United States is taking on the Sowore family’s behalf.
“In the next several days, I’ll continue to engage with the states department in Washington to ascertain the impart of what the arrest of Mr Sowore and other activists and journalists will have on our relationship with Nigeria. My hope is that the bilateral relationship we have with Nigeria will be reassessed in light of these events.”
Last month, the lawmaker had written a letter to Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s ambassador to US, over the crack down on journalists and activists”.
The Nigerian Bar Association has demanded the immediate suspension of the Director-General of Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, over the style used in rearresting Omoyele Sowore in court premises.
Operatives of the DSS had invaded the Federal High Court on Friday, December 6th to arrest Sowore.
The NBA in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun, said it was “greatly dismayed at the exhibition of primitivity, thuggery, insane passion for lawlessness, contempt and disrespect for the rule of law by the agents of the DSS”.
The body of lawyers in the country also said that it finds it disgraceful that this ‘court riot’ occasioned by the high-handedness and insensitivity of the security operatives interrupted judicial proceedings and made the presiding judge to abandon judicial proceedings because of safety concerns.
NBA urged President Buhari to “ensure that the Federal Government and agencies under it obeyed court orders,” as the display of “disrespect of the court by the DSS is legendary and unrivalled”. The organisation called on all Nigerians to stand up and ensure that no government or any of its agencies disrespected the constitution of the country.
The statement added, “We call for the immediate suspension of the Director-General of the Department of State Security from office.
“We make this demand bearing in mind the fact that the DSS under his leadership had established itself as a brutish and irresponsible agency that derives immense pleasure from violating the fundamental rights of Nigerians and disrespecting court orders.
“The National Assembly should review the laws setting up the DSS and indeed all security agencies in Nigeria with a view to repositioning them to be more responsible and responsive to the public.”
The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) says it is in support of the federal government’s decision to close the land borders to the neighbouring countries.
Uche Olowu, the CIBN president, was addressing journalists at the Aso Villa on Friday after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Olowu commended the Buhari administration’s efforts in tackling insecurity, economic policies including that of the border closure.
“You will agree with me that the president and commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Buhari is a passionate man, has a political will and has been driving this nation in spite of all the distractions stemming from insecurity.
“The various key policies and initiatives that he initiated amongst them including the border closure and as an institute, we are very much in support of the border closure because clearly.
“The border policy is a clincher policy for us because it checks arms smuggling, support local industry to grow because that is the way to grow and of course infiltration of small arms have been curbing. If you look at the statistics, even in the petroleum sector that policy has also tried to reduce the level of subsidy that has happened in the economy, so we commended him.
Asked to comment on reports that local manufacturers are loosing an estimated N2 billion daily as a result of the closure, Olowu said: “People don’t seem to understand, let’s look at the philosophical foundation of the border closure. Clearly one was, there is a lot of dumping of goods into the country and then there are illegal and illicit trades that deprived the government of appropriate revenue and then thirdly, the level of insecurity because most of the small arms were smuggled through those land borders.
“Of course we had a situation where the nation was subsidizing the neighbouring countries in terms of petroleum in the downstream sector. If you have that context put in proper perspective then you will begin to appreciate the benefits of this policy.
“I do not agree with people who said local manufacturers cannot export their goods and services. But that closure was not against local manufacturers. Pass through the right channel, the sea border is not closed, it’s the land border that is closed, it’s just checking the illegal activities that are going on.
“Anybody that is saying that we cannot export is a saboteur because anybody that is not supporting this (border closure) means that he is saboteur, the government was losing revenue, insecurity and then we are subsidizing neighbouring countries in the downstream sector, statistics said so.
“The PMS consumption has gone down by 30% translate that, how many billions of naira? That could be channelled properly.
“On inflation, he (the president) said, definitely there would be because suddenly there was a shock in the system and that shock will create this temporary inflation, give it time down the line things would normalize. So it’s just a temporary something.
“Some people are advocating for permanent closure, but no, because we are part of the ECOWAS treaty and we are talking about that. In various fora, Mr President has said that let our neighbours comply with the treaty. Once that is done we should be able to begin to find the free flow of goods.”
Olowu said the delegation discussed various issues with the president including the need for an education bank that will give access to both professional bodies and individuals to access loans.
A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of Dews of Hope Hospital, a N1.5 billion, state-of-the-art 200-bed hospital, allegedly owned by an aide to a former governor of Imo State and serving senator, Rochas Okorocha.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on August 22, 2019, secured the interim forfeiture of the property from the trial judge, Justice A. T Mohammed of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.
The application for interim forfeiture was triggered by evidence that the facility may have been acquired through proceeds of illicit activities as funds from Government House, Owerri were traced to the hospital.
The commission’s investigation revealed that Dr. Paschal Obi, former Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary to then Governor Okorocha, now a serving member of the House of Representatives, was a signatory to the accounts.
An EFCC statement said the managing director of the hospital on invitation, could not also explain how the hospital was funded.
The commission filed for the forefeiture of the property on July 25, 2019 under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, and Other Related Offences Act 2006.
In granting the request for the interim forfeiture of the property, the court ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the order in a national newspaper, which was accordingly complied with asking interested parties to show cause why the property should not be forfeited to the federal government within fourteen days from the dates of the publications.
The hospital located at the heart of Owerri metropolis, had an adjourning staff and doctor’s quarters. (Thisday)