Activist-lawyer Mr Femi Falana on Monday revealed “the real reason” the Department of State Services (DSS) was prosecuting the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.
Falana linked the defendants’ trial to the exposure of corrupt practices by some government officials through Sowore’s news medium, Sahara Reporters.
He spoke in Lagos during the public presentation of the third edition of the ‘Compendium of High profile corruption cases in Nigeria’ published by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation.
The Compendium chronicles the country’s biggest corruption cases, some lasting longer than 12 years.
The activist lawyer had on Sunday criticized The Presidency for justifying Sowore’s treatment by the DSS.
The Presidency, through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, had said, “Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.
“He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States.”
But Falana said: “When we were growing up, it was almost a crime or for those of us who were religious, it was a sin to tell a lie. But when a government uses the apparatus of the state to lie, it becomes a very difficult assignment. I’ve been very busy all day trying to expose the lies told by the government over the weekend, because nobody can justify the gangsterism that took place in court last Friday.”
Falana was referring to the DSS invasion of a Federal High Court, Abuja in an attempt to re-arrest Sowore.
“You can’t be producing books like this, this is hate speech,” he said, praising HEDA for publishing the compendium.
He added, “… When they are talking of hate speech, it’s not about insulting somebody, it’s about exposing corruption. Exposing injustice in our country, exposing criminality and exposing the massive violations of the rights of our people, that is what they mean by hate speech.
“Hate speech is when you expose corruption and they believe that could incite the people against the government. That’s why they are charging Sowore, it’s not about that protest, it’s about Sahara Reporters.
“Garba Shehu said it yesterday. Shehu said ‘This guy(Sowore) is not just an ordinary politician, he has a powerful medium.’ He meant Sahara Reporters, so, they felt that if Sowore is allowed to enjoy his restricted freedom (bail), he may still continue to publish Sahara Reporters, so let’s put him in, whether the heavens will collapse or not. That’s what is going on.”
Falana also revealed that he got accommodation for Sowore and Bakare in one of Abuja’s best hotels with government’s money following their release on bail last Thursday.
He said he lodged them at the Transcorp Hilton after receiving the N100, 000 fine imposed on DSS’s lawyer by the FHC.
He said,” We are making progress. In fact, it was the money we used to get an accommodation for them (Sowore and Bakare) in Transcorp Hilton. You know that’s the best hotel in town, I put them there, with the government money.”
He accused the DSS of deliberately prolonging Sowore’s trial and detention by refusing to tender in court, its witness statements. He added that the Presidency was also subjecting Sowore to media trial.
Falana said: “But they can’t go on like that indefinitely. If they are unable to go on next time, we are going to ask the judge to strike out the case.”