A Federal Hugh Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed December 5 for the commencement of trial of the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore and his co defendant Olawale Bakare, also known as the Mandate.
This followed the inability of the prosecution to serve the defence with all the documents it intends to tender in the case.
The court had slated Wednesday to commence trial in the matter. However, at the resumed hearing Wednesday, counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana (SAN), objected to the commencement of trial because he said he had no access to his clients while in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS).
He told the court that he has no adequate time to prepare for his defence because the secret police has not given him access to the defendants.
Falana said now that the defendants had perfected their bail conditions imposed on them by the court, he can now have unhindered access to the defendants to take instructions from them and prepare for their defence if they are released.
Falana told the court that he had explained to the prosecution “that we are encumbered by the refusal of the State Security Service to allow us to prepare for the defence of the defendants.
“I had already asked my learned counsel for the prosecution, that we are confident that the defendants will be freed today (Wednesday) from the custody of the SSS having met the bail conditions imposed on them by this honourable court.
“Once they are liberated from the custody of the DSS, we will be in a position to take full instruction from them.
“In the circumstances, we will be asking for an adjournment to enable us take full instruction from our clients, so that we can fully prepare for our trial”, Falana told the court.
Sowore, the publisher of Sahara reporter and his co-defendant are facing a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, money laundering and cybercrimes.
The second defendant, through his counsel aligned himself with the submissions of Falana in urging the court for adjournment.
Prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), while objecting to the application for adjournment told the court that the DSS, at no point in time restricted counsel from having access to the defendants.
He said: “We cannot deny counsel access to the defendants because it is their constitutional rights.
“Falana never come to the office of the DSS and was denied access to the defendants. The defendants have ample time and opportunity to prepare for their case”, Liman stated and urged the court to allow the prosecution open its case.
Reacting, Falana reminded the court that on September 24, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court granted Sowore bail, the DSS did not only refused to obey the order of the court, but also threatened to report the judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He said he was in DSS office without been attended to and even when he sent text messages to the DSS boss of his presence to see his client, he was never replied, and added that he attempted ten times to see his client without success.
According to Falana, the prosecution was not ready to commence trial as they intended to take their witnesses in camera without formally applying to the court.
“We were told that Liman applied to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court to take their witnesses in camera and consequently, they have already brought the screen.
“The application was granted behind us. Based on the indulgence, the prosecution confidently brought protective screening instrument which are before the court”, he said and added that the prosecution cannot decide for the court how proceedings should go in a matter.
The court then summoned the DCR of the court, Femi Ekperobi for clarification on the issue and however turned down request for adjournment by the defence and ordered the defence to call its first witness.
Giving a summary of the case of the prosecution, Liman said evidence will be led to prove the allegations against the defendants.
“The prosecution will show how Sowore mobilised, under the #RevolutionNow, with the purpose of bringing down a legitimate government elected in accordance with the constitution of the country”.
He alleged that Sowore recruited the second defendant as coordinator for the revolution schduled to take place on August 5, 2019.
“The prosecution will also lead evidence to show how the first defendant used Sahara Reporter media conjecture to commit the offence of Money Laundering.
“Witness will be called and documentary evidence will be presented, inclusive of video recordings of activities of the defendants towards the actualisation of the revolution”.
Falana, at this point informed the court that he was not served with the documents the prosecution intended to tender, especially, the statement of the witnesses and that of the defence as well as the video recordings.
As a result, the court adjourned the matter till December 5 and 6 for commencement of trial and ordered that all necessary documents the prosecution intends to tender should be served on the defence.
The DSS on August 3, 2019 arrested Sowore for calling for a revolution through a protest scheduled to hold on August 5.
In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants committed the offence by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on August 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The prosecution also accused them of committing the actual offence of treasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
It also accused Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of swift wire, various sums of money from his United Bank of Africa Plc account with number 3002246104 into Sahara Reporters Media Foundation’s account with Guaranty Trust Bank in order to conceal the origin of the funds.