A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that publisher of Sahara reporters, Omoyele Sowore and other co-defendants be detained in custody pending hearing for bail application on Friday, October 4. The court gave the order after the DSS re arraigned Sowore before another Federal High Court justice.
Meanwhile, the court earlier ruled that the trial of the publisher of Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, will continue. In her ruling on Monday, September 30, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, ruled that a defendant is at liberty to take his plea provided he understands the charges levelled against him.
Ojukwu also said: “I see no breach of the constitution in this circumstance, and the defendants are called upon to take their pleas.” At the pronouncement of the court, the registry began reading the charges against the defendants.
Reading the first charge to the defendants, Sowore and his co-defendant agreed to understanding count 1 and both pleaded not guilty.
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However, after the registrar reeled out the second charge, Sowore told the court that he does not understand the charge. To this, his counsel who is seated at the bar made signals to him and Sowore replies: “I’m pleading not guilty based on the advise of my lawyer, right now.”
The registrar continued to the third and fourth charges as the defendants pleaded not guilty. On getting to the fifth charge, Sowore said he was confused as does not understand the charge.
“I am confused, I don’t understand or even know how to transfer money from UBA to Citigroup Bank and then to Sahara Reporters,” Sowore said.
He continued after another signal from his counsel: “I plead not guilty based on the advised from my lawyer.”
Further to the defendants pleading not guilty to the seven charges levelled against them, the prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman, said the DSS had concluded investigation on the matter and are as well ready for hearing. Presidency reacts to Sowore’s continued detention Reacting, the counsel to the defence, A. Olumide, said the prosecution has made it clear to the court that they have concluded investigation.
Olumide said that the defendants have been in custody of the DSS since August when they were arrested. He added that since the prosecution had earlier stated that the defendants were held because the DSS was still carrying out an investigation on them. “Now that they have concluded investigation, my lord I will humbly plead that they be released for trial,” Olumide said.
Leveraging on the previous court’s order on Sowore’s bail, Olumide prayed the court to order the first defendant’s release based on Justice Taiwo Taiwo’s ruling.
For the second defendant, Olumide orally applied for Bakare’s bail. In her interjection, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, said she will not entertain an oral application for bail. She advised the defence to within a short period file an application for bail for both defendants.
She also said the previous ruling on bail for the defendants by Justice Taiwo was not premised on the charges before her court. She further ruled that the defendants remain in DSS custody pending hearing for bail application on Friday, October 4.