A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday granted the detained convener of RevolutionNow and publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, bail to the tune of N100m.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, who admitted Sowore to bail, warned him to stay away from any form of protest as one of the bail conditions.
Also admitted to bail in the sum of N50m is Sowore’s co-defendant, Olawale Adebayo Bakare, facing alleged treasonable felony charges, among others.
Defendants’ counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) , had urged the court to admit them to bail on the grounds that they are entitled to bail and that they do not have any criminal record.
Falana submitted that the claim by the respondent that the defendants will jump bail being a resident of America is not tenable, stressing that the 1st defendant was a candidate in the February 23 presidential election.
On the first charge of treasonable felony, the senior lawyer argued that the word ‘Revolution’ has never been criminalized, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari after losing the election in 2003 called for a revolution and was never arrested.
On count two which accused Sowore of insulting the President, Falana said that the law does not allow a public officer to use the machinery of state to “settle scores”, stressing that if the President feels insulted the legal option before he is to sue for libel or defamation.
He assured the court that if granted bail the defendants will not interfere with evidence or witnesses of the prosecution.
He cited several cases where persons accused of a treasonable felony were granted bail even on self recognizance and urged the court to do the same for his clients or at most admit them to bail on liberal terms.
In his opposition to the bail application, counsel to the prosecution, Hassan Liman (SAN), urged the court to disregard the submissions of the defendants because they touched on the substance of the case.
He said that the charges against the defendants are severe, carrying life sentences if convicted hence the high risk of the defendants jumping their bail if granted.
While citing the case of the leader of the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who absconded from his trial after he was granted bail by a Federal High Court, Abuja, the prosecution submitted that the first defendant is a flight risk being a resident of the United States of America.
Another reason the court should not release the defendants on bail is the possibility of the defendants repeating the act, adding that Sowore had on September 30 after the court’s proceedings were shouting ‘Revolution now’.
Liman in urging the court not to admit the defendants to bail said the respondent has concluded the investigation and is ready for an accelerated hearing of the suit.
However, Falana, in the case of Kanu, who jumped bail last year, said it was quite different from that of his client, submitting that the respondent knows Kanu’s whereabouts and can easily extradite him if he wanted to.
Ruling on the bail applications, Justice Ojukwu held that the offenses they were charged with are bailable ones.
As part of the bail conditions, Sowore is to produce two sureties in like sum who must be resident in Abuja and show evidence of tax payment for three years from 2014 to 2016.
The two sureties must have landed properties worth N100m each and must deposit original copies of the property title with the court.
Sowore is prohibited from traveling out of Abuja throughout the trial.
Bakare on his part is to produce one surety in the sum of N50m and also show evidence of tax payment within the same three years period.
The court, in addition, ordered the defendants not to participate in any form of protest pending the determination of the suit.
They are also expected not to travel without the permission of the court.
Justice Ojukwu also ordered that the defendants be remanded in custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) pending the perfection of their bail.
The matter has been adjourned till November 6,7, and 8 for the commencement of trial.
The federal government had on September 30 arraigned Sowore and his co-accused Olaleye on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony, insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, money laundering amongst others.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Before their arraignment on September 30, Sowore has been in the custody of the DSS following his arrest on August 3 by operatives of the DSS over alleged plan to push for the removal of President Buhari from office through a revolution.
Sowore up till this moment has remained in the custody of the DSS despite an order for his release by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on September 24