Lagos based lawyer Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has expressed concern about the bail conditions imposed on detained publisher of the Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, by the court saying those who would stood as sureties are being witch-hunted by anti-graft agencies on the order from above.
He said the bail condition would confine the detainee to a part of the country, even after meeting other conditions. The popular lawyer recalled that the last time such restrictive condition was imposed on someone was during the colonial era.
The activist-lawyer, who spoke yesterday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, during the annual general conference of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), did not specify the form of restriction imposed on Sowore.
Falana was the chief host of the conference with the theme: Appraising Human Rights and Security for the Survival for Democracy in Nigeria. The activist-lawyer urged the nation’s human rights groups to wake up, unite and prepare to battle what he called an emerging dictatorship in the country.
He also urged all activists and rights groups to re-enact what led to the exit of military dictatorship from power in the country.
Expressing the confidence that “no dictator can defeat the Nigerian people because a people united can never be defeated,” Falana added: “I believe you are all aware of Omoyele Sowore. For those of you who are not lawyers, you may not understand the bail condition imposed on Sowore.
“The last time we had such bail condition was under the former colonial regime where people were reported and restricted to a particular part of the country.
“I can recall that of Pa Imodu. He was restricted to Auchi area (in today’s Edo State) for three years before he could come back to Lagos. That is where we are.
“CDHR needs to get all other human rights groups together, unite and do what we use to do during the military regime because no dictator can defeat the Nigerian people. A people united can never be defeated.”
The Sowore family yesterday sought the support of Nigerians for the unconditional release of their son, the detained Sahara Reporters publisher.
Sowore, an indigene of Kiribo, in the riverine Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State and presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) in the last election, was arrested by the Department of Security Services (DSS) on August 3 for alleged treason after calling for a revolution.
After some months in custody, a Federal High Court recently varied the bail conditions granted him and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare. Falana said he was making efforts to meet the bail conditions.
But Sowore’s family, through the activist’s younger brother, Akin Sowore, told The Nation on phone that the bail conditions were too harsh. He stressed that they were not comfortable with them.
“Some notable personalities who should have come out to be sureties for Sowore to facilitate his release are being witch-hunted by anti-graft agencies on the ‘order from above’.
“They are scared of probe while some of his known friends and associates have backed out. We are not putting blames on anybody. But Sowore’s struggle is not sectional; he believes in one united Nigeria’s emancipation. People are afraid of the oppressive nature of the government of the day.”