SAHARA Reporters publisher and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore has rejected the offer of bail from Omega Fire Ministries pastorpruener and founder Apostle Suleman Johnson who offered to fund it.
In August, men of the Department of State Security (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 moved to their headquarters in Abuja and the federal government asked for a court order to detain him for 90 days but this request was denied by the Abuja Federal High Court in September, only allowing the SSS to detain him for 45 days.
In September, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had imposed a N100m bail bond on Mr Sowore while his co-defendant Olawale Bakare got N50m, following charges of treasonable felony levelled against them. Mr Sowore and Mr Bakare were arraigned on a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, cyberstalking and money laundering.
Last month, his lawyers successfully appealed the Draconian terms imposed when he was first detained in August. Justice Ojukwu reduced Mr Sowore’s bail bond from N100m to N50m, while Mr Bakare’s bail was reduced from N50m to N20m.
In addition, the judge also ruled that the sureties to the defendants are no longer required to deposit evidence of the funds with the court registrar. However, Mr Sowore has been unable to raise the bail money and earlier this week, Apostle Johnson said he was considering posting the bail bond.
However, Mr Sowore, a fierce critic of Nigeria’s pastorprueners, who he has accused of ripping off ordinary people, has rejected the offer. One of Mr Sowore’s lawyers, Inibehe Effiong, said that Apostle Suleman Johnson was not eligible to stand surety for the detained activist.
He stated that the cleric had been involved in a public spat with Mr Sowore and therefore, there was conflict of interest. Mr Effiong said the challenge Mr Sowore had was that the federal government had seriously politicised the matter thereby discouraging people from standing surety for his client.
In addition, Mr Effiong pointed out that the court was clear that the surety must be resident in Abuja, so the clergyman did not meet this condition. Mr Effiong, however, said he was confident that the activist would meet his bail conditions soon.
Mr Effiong added: “Suleman’s offer cannot be considered let alone accepted. The man who is making the offer is on record of having had a public altercation with Sowore, so, there will be no basis for Sowore to consider it.
“The court stated that the surety must be resident in Abuja and the last time I checked, he was not resident in Abuja. I am not sure he is eligible to stand surety for him, so there is no way Sowore can accept such an offer.
“So, we are turning it down and we are not even considering it. The way the federal government politicised the matter, made it difficult for the bail conditions to be met but we are in the process of perfecting the bail.”
In the past, Mr Sowore had in a report published on Sahara Reporters, accused Apostle Suleman of engaging in extra-marital affairs with a woman known as Stephanie Otobo. This led to a very public spat between the two are there are fears in the Sowore camp that the clergyman may want the allegations withdrawn as part of any deal.