AN Abuja high court has warned that it may order the arrest of the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS) Yusuf Bichi over his refusal to release former presidential aspirant and Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore.
In August, men of the Department DSS picked up Mr Sowore in Lagos as he was planning to organise a series of nationwide demonstrations under the banner #RevolutionNow. He has since been charged to court and in September, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu imposed a N100m bail bond on Mr Sowore while his co-defendant Olawale Bakare got N50m, following charges of treasonable felony levelled against them.
Both men were arraigned on a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, cyberstalking and money laundering. Last month, however, Mr Sowore’s lawyers successfully appealed the Draconian terms imposed when he was first detained in August and Justice Ojukwu reduced his bail bond to N50m from N100m, while Mr Bakare’s bail was reduced to N20m from N50m.
Despite Mr Sowore meeting the bail conditions earlier this month, the DSS have refused to release him from custody and he decided to protest this by embarking on an indefinite hunger strike. According to the DSS, they have refused to release him because of fears that he may be knocked down by a vehicle on his way out of their detention facility.
Exasperated with the continuous refusal to obey court orders and the making of excuses by the DSS, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has warned Mr Bichi that he faces arrest for contempt of court. Yesterday, Justice Ojukwu stated that Mr Bichi will be found guilty of contempt of court if he refuses to comply with the order on the release of Mr Sowore.
Justice Ojukwu said: “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in the order of the federal high court of Justice, Abuja made on the 6th November 2019, which ordered you to release the defendants/applicants in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CR/235/2019 forthwith, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison. A copy of the said order of court earlier served on you is hereby annexed for your on the spot reference.
“This court has been informed that even as at today, Tuesday the 12th November 2019 you are yet to comply with the lawful order of the Federal High Court by refusing to release the defendants/applicants namely: Omoyele Stephen Sowore and Olawale Adebayo Bakare (Mandate) in your custody. You are hereby directed to comply with the court order forthwith or you will be guilty of contempt of court.”