By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, yesterday varied its bail conditions earlier granted to the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.
The defendants who were charged with a treasonable felony among others by the federal government, were on October 4, granted bail on certain conditions.
According to the accused, the conditions attached to secure their bail were stringent, adding that his associate could not meet up with the conditions.
Consequently, the defendants approached the court, praying for variation of the bail conditions.
In his argument, counsel to Sowore, Femi Falana, SAN, defended his client’s choice of the word “revolution”.
According to him, the Supreme Court does not even regard a revolution as a lawful offence.
“Even a coup that sustains the statuesque has been said not to be a revolution by the Supreme Court,” he held.
He reminded the court that after the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari lost previous elections, they staged protests where; “Buhari called for a revolution in 2011 like that of Egypt which was evidently violent.”
“Only in 1948 was someone charged for staging a protest. And the charge was sedition,” he said.
He, therefore, asked the court to grant the defendants bail on self-recognizance, adducing that various courts had decided on the rights of Nigerians to peaceful protest.
Falana further submitted that the court had ruled during a case instituted by Buhari’s party that a police permit was unnecessary for the conduct of protests in a free society.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman expressed the fears that if granted bail, Sowore may jump bail like the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
He added that there is likelihood of Sowore’s continued call for a revolution.
‘’Sowore had personally chanted songs of revolution after his arraignment and would repeat the same thing if he is released on bail,’’ he said.
But according to Falana, the allegation against his client did not support the claim made by Liman.
On the argument by the defence counsel that Buhari’s also called for a revolution at one time, the prosecutor described it as baseless, arguing that it was irrelevant in the present circumstances.
In a ruling, yesterday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu waived the earlier requirement that one of Sowore’s sureties deposits N50million as security and reduced the amount attached to Bakare’s bail from N50m to N20m.
Justice Ojukwu said all other conditions should remain. She said the decision to restrain the defendants from participating in rallies was in order in view of the nature of the case.
She adjourned till November 6 for the commencement of trial in the case.
It will be recall that Justice Ojukwu, had in a ruling on October 4, 2019 granted Sowore bail at N100million and two sureties in the same amount, and barred him from travelling out of Abuja.
Further in the ruling, the court ordered one of Sowore’s surety to deposit N50m in the account of the court as security.
She granted Bakare bail at N50m with a surety in the same amount and barred him from travelling out of his base in Osogbo, except while coming for the trial in Abuja.
The judge added that the sureties, who must be resident in Abuja, must also have landed assets worth the bail sum in Abuja, and should deposit the original title documents of the assets with the court.
The defendants were ordered to be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) pending when they are able to meet the bail conditions.