Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has reacted a claim by the Department of State Service (DSS) that its operatives did not disrupt proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in their bid to rearrest his client, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
KanyiDaily had reported that on Friday, DSS operatives invaded the courtroom of an Abuja Federal High Court and disrupted the ongoing trial of Sowore.
The operatives chased away the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, along with other lawyers in the courtroom, before re-arresting Sowore, who was released barely 24hour after spending 124 days in their detention.
Following the backlash from Nigerians, DSS issued a statement on Saturday, saying its operatives did not disrupt the proceedings at the court to rearrest Sowore.
However, in a counter statement on Sunday, Falana described the denial of the DSS as a “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”.
Falana revealed that the leader of the DSS team of operatives who invaded the court tendered an apology for their conduct when summoned after the incident by Justice Ojukwu.
According to him, 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.
Falana said: “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.