The national legal adviser of the African Action Congress has vowed to challenge and ensure the vacation of a court order authorising the State Security Services to detain the party’s 2019 election presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, for an extended period.
The order was given in Abuja on Thursday, nearly a week after Mr Sowore, who is the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested in Lagos.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo ruled that SSS should keep Mr Sowore in detention for 45 days. He said the agency will be given the approval to extend if necessary.
The party’s legal adviser, Inibehe Effiong, said the party would soon approach the court to seek an order to vacate the court’s decision.
Speaking on the sideline of a stakeholders’ meeting on an anti-corruption campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, Mr Effiong said the team was saddened by the court’s decision and that it would form a dangerous precedence if not vacated.
Mr Effiong was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the two-day meeting that was put together by ActionAid Nigeria with the theme; “Corruption as an Impediment to Human Development Outcomes.”
He said; “We are saddened by the decision of the court because our position remains that the basis for which Sowore was arrested was not tenable in law. If we hear the DSS clearly, it is saying Sowore is calling for revolution, but we are saying you cannot bring that within the context of treason.
“Even at that, if you have already convicted him in the media, why do you need either 90 or 45 days to investigate again? While we believe that the judge exercised his discretion, the decision we have taken is that we would look at the decision made today and I can assure you that we will go to court to ensure that the order is vacated.
“Going by the recent anti-democratic developments, we are very sure that this country is being taken backward because what the government is saying is that dissent cannot be tolerated. If you say somebody has committed a crime for calling for revolution, you have to look at the intent. This is what is called mens rea in law and the action in law.”
Mr Effiong added that the trial of Mr Sowore is illegal and said that government is chasing shadow by its actions.
In her speech, the ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Ene Obi, urged participants to rise in the defence of Nigeria. She said it is important for Nigerians to work with genuine rights group and anti-corruption organisations to reclaim Nigeria.
She said; “Looking at some of the benefits of anti-corruption, we should have a consensus as Nigerians on how transparency, participation accountability and integrity can best be annexed in order to have a better society. While transparency of government improves the awareness and knowledge of citizenry, it is only effective participation of citizens that can evoke accountability.”
Other participants at the event including the Akwa Ibom State commissioner of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Shola Sodipo; Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Public Accounts; Charity Idio, among others, canvassed support for the war against corruption.
The consensus at the event was that rather than fighting corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari is deodorizing the vice.