Tope Akinyode, the head of the legal team of the African Action Congress (AAC) Lagos Chapter, says the Federal High Court in Abuja was misled in granting the ex parte application brought before it by the Department of State Services (DSS) to hold Omoyele Sowore for 45 days in detention.
Akinyode, in an interview with SaharaReporters, said the court was preemptive to have opened a window of renewal for the DSS at the expiration of the 45 days.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo had ruled earlier that the DSS could hold Sowore, a pro-democracy activist, in its detention for 45 days.
The judge, ruling on the ex parte application filed by the secret police, also said the DSS could renew the order to further hold him while it continues investigation on the accusation of terrorism against Sowore.
The lawyer said, “I have reservation about bringing such an important issue before the court by ex parte application. In this case, I might agree that time might be of essence to the DSS in bringing the application but it prejudices the other party, that is, Mr Sowore, who has been in detention.”
He further stated that there are rules guiding the prosecution of criminal matters.
One of which, he said, is that the prosecutor must have concluded its investigation before an arrest is made.
“What the [DSS] has done today is to say, ‘We do not even know if he has committed any offence yet but we are trying to wrap our heads around it and we want to hope that within 45 days or 90 days, we will nail him’. They do not have facts yet, that is what they are saying.
“The court was misguided to have preempted that after 45 days it would grant a renewal, which is very wrong. The court ought to have moved itself suo moto– use its initiative to determine an issue in law. It ought to have considered whether that application is meritious. If we are being truthful, I do not think it has merit,” Akinyode argued.
According to him, the court ought to have granted him bail either on self-recognition or with conditions that will ensure that he presents himself.
He opined that the entire application ought to have been challenged, hence urging the legal team of Sowore to appeal the ruling.
The lawyer also asserted that the allegation against Sowore was more political than it was legal.
He said: “For me, the matter cannot only be treated legally, but it is also political. I say this because I have reservation about how this government have been treating court orders, rulings and its position generally on legal matters.”
SaharaReporters, New York