A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned till March 2022 the trumped-up charges of treasonable felony brought against human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore by the Nigerian government.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had on behalf of the Nigerian government in a charge marked ABJ/CR/CS/365/19 accused Sowore of treasonable felony.
The activist was expected to take a fresh plea before Justice Obiora Egwuatu on Monday following the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to Calabar in Cross River State.
However, SaharaReporters gathered that the prosecutors were not present in court while the court authorities refused to inform the activist’s lawyers.
“Muhammadu Buhari through his Attorney General, Abubakar Malami tried to rearraign us for ‘Treasonable Felony’ today. Prosecutors forgot to be present in court for arraignment and the court also did not inform our lawyers. Case adjourned again till March 2022. Time wasters! #RevolutionNow,” Sowore tweeted on Monday.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had early arraigned Sowore and Olawale Bakare before Justice Ojukwu for treasonable felony for organising the ‘Revolution Now’ protest on August 5, 2019, which the government desperately used security agents to clamp down on.
Justice Ojukwu subsequently ordered that Sowore and Bakare be released on bail but the DSS disobeyed the order for several weeks. After granting him bail, the DSS re-arrested Sowore inside the court, causing commotion which made the judge flee.
He was, however, released following nationwide condemnation.
In February 2020, the Office of the Attorney-General took over the case, amended the charges and re-arraigned Sowore and Bakare.
The judge ordered the Nigerian government to pay N200,000 as the cost to the defendants for the frivolous application for adjournment and adjourned till February 13.
Following Justice Ojukwu’s transfer to Calabar, it was learnt that she was given the option of continuing some other cases. A court official said the judge picked a few cases and returned some others to the CJ, including Sowore’s case.
However, it was learnt that two other judges in the Federal High Court had refused to take over Sowore’s case.
“It seems some of these judges feel intimidated. They don’t want Federal Government trouble. The case is high profile and controversial. So, they have been avoiding it,” a source had said.