Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has revealed that he rejected an offer asking his client Omoyele Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a bid to get released from custody, when the Sahara Reporters publisher was detained in 2019.
Mr Falana in a statement on Thursday stated that he rejected the offer as presented by a government delegation comprising the late Isa Funtua and two others.
According to his statement titled, “On the collapse of secret meetings designed to compromise Omoyele Sowore in custody”, Falana did not only reject the offer, but he also rebuffed a rather ‘condescending’ statement by the late Isa Funtua, who was of the opinion that the regime in power could not be defeated.
“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 rights activist stated.
Falana further revealed that he also rejected the delegation’s request to have Sowore, who was in detention, to write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the Federal Government.
Below is the full statement as published by Mr Femin Falana.
ON THE COLLAPSE OF SECRET MEETINGS DESIGNED TO COMPROMISE OMOYELE SOWORE IN CUSTODY
In a deliberate attempt to distort the proceedings of the secret meetings held by representatives of media publishers and officials of the presidency with Mr. Omoyele Sowore in the dungeon of the State Security Service last year Mr. Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer.
Since Mr. Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative he said that “The meeting ended well, and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.
The fence-mending process collapsed after the meeting of the trio with the lawyer in Lagos.” 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 particular, I recalled the case of Isa Funtua v The President wherein the plaintiff had challenged the obnoxious newspaper registration decree enacted by the Ibrahim Babangida junta in 1993. For goodness sake, is Mr. Shehu not aware of the fact that Mr. Sowore was charged with treasonable felony, money laundering and insulting President Buhari for daring to call off the bluff of the federal government?
It is interesting to note I had teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the restoration of the liberty of Mr. Garba Shehu (who was then the spokesman for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) when he was detained by the State Security Service and charged before the Federal High Court with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.
Happily, the charge filed against Mr. Shehu by the forces of incipient fascism in the country was withdrawn and struck out in his favour. In like manner, the charge of a 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.