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DSS denies rearresting Sowore in court

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FILE PHOTO: Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore appears at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

Nigeria’s Department of State Service (DSS) on Saturday denied rearresting Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore in the courtroom.

“A critical look at the videos in circulation would convince any objective viewer that there was no DSS personnel during the entire period the Sowore crowd acted out its orchestrated drama,” DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya said in a statement.

“Its (DSS) personnel were never, at any time, involved in the incident.”

Afunanya said the court had adjourned peacefully without an untoward incident when suddenly the unruly crowd imported into the courtroom went into a frenzy on the mere suspicion that DSS officials were seen at the court premises.

Although contrary to reports, Afunanya said, “the eventual re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS was effected outside the courtroom.”

“The DSS, as a professional, responsible and law abiding organization, could not have invaded a courtroom including the one presided over by a respected Judge who is not only handling its case but whose Order was unconditionally obeyed within a 24 hour ultimatum.,” Afunanya said.

He posited that the DSS holds the Nigerian judiciary in utmost respect and will continue to work with it for national peace and public safety.

Afunanya, however, did not disclose the reasons for Sowore’s rearrest.

In a video shared by his Sahara Reporters on Friday, Sowore was seen being dragged by several men in an Abuja courtroom. Sahara Reporters said some of the men in the video were operatives of the DSS.

“Sowore has been re-arrested. He is being detained by the DSS (Department of State Service),” Sowore’s lawyer Femi Falana told AFP.

“The DSS had attempted to arrest him in court but were resisted by the people and to avoid violence, I personally drove him to their office,” he said.

An aide to the Nigerian president Lauretta Onochie on Saturday earlier accused Sowore of stagging his supposed re-arrest to make the country’s secret police look bad.

Onochie said the court arrest was “planned” by the journalist’s “boys and girls.”

“So it was a stage-managed drama in the court yesterday,” Onochie said in a Facebook post.

“Sowore pinned down by his supporters in a courtroom in order to give DSS a bad name.”

Onochie did not present evidence to prove that Sowore faked his arrest.

Sowore had been in DSS detention for 124 days before his release on Thursday. He was arrested on Saturday, August 3 for calling for a nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow.

He was charged on offences of treasonable felony, money laundering, terrorism and plotting to overthrow Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.


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