Why We Are Still Holding Sowore – SSS

The State Security Service has issued yet another controversial statement claiming on Wednesday afternoon that it refused to release Omoyele Sowore because the “appropriate persons” have not turned up to pick him up at its headquarters.

Mr Sowore met all bail conditions on November 6 and a federal judge signed warrant for his immediate release from the SSS custody, where he had been held since August 5.

“It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for” Mr Sowore “present themselves and have him released to them,” SSS spokesperson Peter Afunanya said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Afunanya’s statement was the third the SSS would issue since last week Wednesday when Mr Sowore satisfied bail conditions, promising to obey court order, yet had failed to do so.

The statement appeared a minor rework of the SSS’ Friday night statement, in which the secret police claimed Mr Sowore was not released because no one had come for him.

The SSS was widely ridiculed by the statement, with social media commentators saying it was a mockery of the entire country that an intelligence agency would issue a statement that has no basis in logic or law.

After days of Nigerians trooping to its headquarters in Abuja and field offices in Lagos to get the SSS to comply with the court order, the agency now claimed that its statement last week was requesting for the sureties of Mr Sowore and not anyone as its statement expressly indicated.

Mr Afunanya also failed to explain why he did not indicate in its Friday statement last week that it was calling for sureties to come for Mr Sowore.

He also failed to explain why it took so many days to clarify that it was requesting sureties when dozens of people, including Mr Sowore’s lawyers, have been trooping to the SSS since Saturday to get the agency to live up to its words to the public.

Lawyers have also said there that there is no law that requires anyone to collect a person who has met bail conditions detention, and definitely not an adult.

The SSS also attacked Mr Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana, for his statements in the media. Mr Falana had told Nigerians that the SSS was plotting to file fresh charges against Mr Sowore in order to justify its apparent disregard of court order, which effectively made its detention of Mr Sowore illegal since November 6.

Mr Falana had said he made several attempts to get Mr Sowore released from custody after he met bail conditions, but the SSS refused. The rights lawyer also reminded Nigerians that the SSS had disregarded a previous court order for Mr Sowore’s release in September.

Even though the SSS claimed again that it was a law-abiding agency, its history is replete with flagrant violations of citizens rights and competent court pronouncements. The cases of Nigeria’s former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Shiite leader, Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, are some of the most prominent case of judicial violations by the agency in recent years.

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Nigerian Cable News