… AGF should file a nolle prosequi motion immediately –Falana
Lawyers yesterday disagreed over the request by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), seeking the transfer of the case file of the convener of #Revolution- Now protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, to his office. The Department of State Services (DSS) is prosecuting Sowore before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over alleged treason charges. However, the counsel to Sowore, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday urged the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance, which had exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment. While some lawyers said the request was a good development, others said that it would bring about a delay in the already commenced case. Malami, as part of deliberate efforts to probe emerging issues related to the recent imbroglio involving Sowore’s case and for speedy dispensation of justice requested that the case file in respect of charge pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja be forwarded to his office.
This was contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday. In the statement, Gwandu said the request for the transfer of the case to the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was contained in a letter dated December 11, and addressed to the Director General of the DSS, National Headquarters Abuja. The Solicitor General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata (SAN), who signed the letter referred to a letter from the DSS office on September 9, 2019. The letter stated: “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon a further review of the case has directed the immediate takeover of the prosecu-tion of all charges in respect of Omoyole Sowore by the Federal Ministry of Justice in line with the provisions of Sections 150(1) and 174 (1) (ac) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).” The letter requested the Director to “promptly forward all the case files” in respect of Omoyele Sowore to the office of the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
However, reacting, an Abuja-based lawyer and rights activist, George Atavti, noted that the takeover of the case was a welcome development as it was likely to enhance justice for Sowore. “The AGF by the constitution is the only office of government that has a prosecutorial power on behalf of the Federal Government. “All other agencies only have investigative roles, but lack power to prosecute. With the planned takeover, it is certain that the cause of Justice will be enhanced.”
In a contrary opinion, another Abuja-based lawyer, Ibrahim Shekari, submitted that the planned takeover was a delay tactics that would not in any way do the defendant any good. “It is a trite law, that when a matter is taken over, such matter starts de novo.
That means, starting afresh. With the AGF taking over the case, the trial will start all over again and possibly before a new judge. “It is also possible, the charge will be amended. And the bureaucratic nature of government is waiting to receive instruction from a superior. “My take is that the DSS should have been allowed to continue the prosecution, but, however, on a speedy trial.” Meanwhile, Falana in a statement sighted by an online news portal, SaharaReporters, said the AGF’s directive, “is not a takeover because it was the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami (SAN), who filed Omoyele Sowore’s case and farmed it out to Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN). “But in view of the violent invasion of the court by armed operatives of the SSS, the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team and have the case prosecuted by the DPP.
“Having been advised that Sowore cannot be convicted on the basis of the proof of evidence filed in court, the SSS has refused to make the statements of the prosecution witnesses available to the defendants as ordered by the trial court. Hence, hearing in the case has been adjourned till February 20, 2020 at the instance of the prosecution. “Convinced that the pending case would collapse like a pack of cards, the SSS is currently fishing for evidence to nail Sowore. In spite of the directive of the AGF to take over the case, the SSS subjected Sowore to a four-hour interrogation on Thursday.
“The entire interrogation pertained to Sowore’s alleged links with the proscribed Boko Haram sect, IPOB and IMN, which he vehemently denied. “At Sowore’s instance, a member of the legal defence team, Mr. Abubakar Marshal, witnessed the marathon interrogation. The plan of the SSS is to charge Sowore with terrorism in line with the unsubstituted allegations of presidential media aides. “In view of the foregoing, we urge the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance, which has exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment.”