The Department of State Services (DSS) has accused political activist and convener of the “Revolution Now” movement, Omoyele Sowore, of capitalising on the latitude of freedom provided to him at the service’s detention facility to use his telephone to mobilise Nigerians for violence and revolution against the government.
Speaking at press conference at the service’s headquarters in Abuja, yesterday, DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, dismissed claims by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, that he was at the DSS to secure Sowore’s bail, saying that the legal activist lied.
The DSS spokesperson argued that the service deserved commendation instead of condemnation for protecting Sowore’s life by keeping him in its custody, insisting that no credible Nigerian has come forward to secure his bail.
He argued that the service could not release Sowore from its detention facility because he may be knocked down by a vehicle on his way out.
Afunanya said, “We cannot just release Sowore and ask him to go because he may be knocked down by a vehicle at the gate.”
Pointing out that Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, was yet to come forward and fetch him from their facility, Afunanya said the senior lawyer had not been to the headquarters of the service since the activist was granted bail.
He maintained that the secret police was following administrative procedures by insisting that Sowore’s sureties come forward for proper documentation.
“We respect rules and orders of the court and there was never a time the Director-General said he would not release Sowore,” he said.
Sowore is currently held in custody of the secret police against court order.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Abuja had recently ordered the release of Sowore alongside Olawale Adebayo.
The DSS is yet to comply with the order and claimed that no surety had come to take Sowore on bail.
Few weeks ago, a group of protesters led by Deji Adeyanju alleged that they were given N1million to stop the protest demanding Sowore’s release.
The DSS, however, said it will release Sowore if his sureties come forward for documentation.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has expressed confidence in possible release of activists, Mr Omoyele Sowore and Mr. Olawale Bakare, who remained in the arbitrary detention of federal security agents despite a court order for their release.
The organisation’s expression of confidence followed the response of Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Portal Welby to an earlier open letter for intervention in the matter.
Recall that SERAP had on November 11, 2019, in an open letter to Archbishop of Canterbury, urged him to use his good offices and leadership and his “friendship with President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on him to promote the rule of law in words and in action by obeying all court orders including the order for the releasing of Sowore and Bakare from arbitrary detention.”
Journalist and activist, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights.
Sowore, was arrested on August 3 by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) for planning a protest.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but the security agents have continued to refuse to release them despite being served with the court orders.
The SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, who made the response of the Archbishop known in a statement, yesterday, expressed delight over the positive response.
SERAP had in the earlier letter expressed “serious concerns about the disturbing trends by state governments and federal government to use the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights.”
‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent
A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.
COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables
Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.