Federal High Court, Abuja, Thursday threatened to send the director of Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) Yusuf Bichi to prison for refusing to release Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore despite a court order.
“Take notice, that unless you obey the direction…to release the applicant in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/915/2019, forthwith you will be guilty of contempt of court and liable to be committed to prison,” the court said in a notice to DSS director.
“The court has been informed that even as at today, Thursday, September 26, you are yet to comply with the lawful order of the Federal High Court by refusing to release the applicant namely; Omoyele Sowore, in your custody.”
The court on Tuesday ordered DSS to release Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) from its custody.
The court, however, asked him to deposit his international passport with it before he is released.
The judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the law provides for the freedom of all Nigerians regardless of economic or political status.
He ruled that there was no extant order allowing Sowore’s further detention before the court after the expiration of the 45 days it granted DSS to detain him.
“The order of the court has expired. It has not been renewed and cannot be renewed in view of the motion ex-parte earlier withdrawn,” the judge said.
“The liberty of all Nigerians high or low, poor or rich is guaranteed by the constitution.”
“It’s for this end that I’m of the view that the defendant ought to be released forthwith.”
While Sowore remained at DSS custody, the court directed it to comply with the order or be guilty of contempt of court.
Sowore was arrested by the DSS Saturday, August 3 for planning a nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow.
He was charged on offences of treasonable felony, money laundering, terrorism and plots to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari.