Sowore’s Detention: Garba Shehu’s Memory Has Failed Him, Says Falana
Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says when Omoyele Sowore was in detention, a request was made for him to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari but it was rejected.
Sowore, an activist, was arrested and detained in August ahead of #RevolutionNow, a nationwide protest against the government.
He was released in December but restricted to the federal capital territory (FCT).
While in detention of the Department of State Services (DSS), a delegation led by the late Ismaila Isa Funtua, an ally of the president, had reportedly visited Sowore to “negotiate conditions” for his release.
After his death on Monday, Sowore tweeted a video where he described Funtua as an “arrogant man” who asked him to “abandon the struggle” in exchange for his release.
In an ensuing face-off, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, who was part of the delegation, accused Sowore of “attacking a dead soul”.
Shehu said the visit was not to negotiate Sowore’s release, adding that Sowore felt happy when the first meeting held in Abuja but a subsequent one where the delegation met Sowore’s lawyer in Lagos, collapsed.
Reacting in a statement on Thursday, Falana who is Sowore’s lawyer, accused Shehu of attempting to distort the proceedings of the meetings.
“Mr. Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer. Mr. Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative,” he said.
“Mr. Shehu ought to have published the terms of the ‘resolution’ which he claimed that Mr. Sowore had accepted instead of of blaming the collapse of the “fence-mending process” on the intransigence of his lawyer ‘whoever that was (sic)’
“I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr. Shehu even though he did not mention my name. Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr. Shehu, he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr. Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government.
“Apart from insisting that my client had committed no offence by exercising his freedom of expression over the perilous state of the nation, I expressed my personal agony over the request because I won the legal battle wherein the court of appeal had upheld the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to protest against the government without police permit.
“Mr. Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service. In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated, I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation.”
The senior lawyer said it is interesting to note that he teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the release of Shehu, who was then spokesperson of former Vice-President Atiku Abukakar, when he was detained by the DSS State and charged with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the official secrets act.
He said the charge filed against Shehu was withdrawn and struck out in his favour.
“In like manner, the charge of treasonable felony which is hanging menacingly on the head of Mr. Omoyele Sowore like a sword of Damocles will also be struck out in his favour in the fullness of time,” he said.
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