A federal high court in Abuja on Friday granted a N100 million bail to Omoyele Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement.
Sowore has been in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since August 3 when he was arrested in Lagos.
A court had earlier granted him bail but the secret police refused to release him while he was arraigned on September 30, alongside Olawale Bakare, his co-defendant, on a 7-count charge of felony brought against him by the federal government.
At the court on Friday, Ijeoma Ojukwu, the presiding judge, held that the prosecution failed to show good reasons why the defendants should not be granted bail since the offences are bailable.
The judge also granted a N50 million bail to Bakare. She restricted Sowore from speaking with journalists and travelling outside Abuja.
The judge ordered Sowore to produce two sureties in like sum, one who must deposit N50m to the court pending the determination of the case.
She said all sureties must be resident in Abuja, must show proof of tax clearance from 2016 to 2018 and must deposit original documents of landed properties in Abuja.
Earlier, while opposing the bail application, Hassan Liman, counsel to the federal government, urged the court to dismiss the request for bail, saying the defendants have demonstrated the likelihood of committing the same offences.
“The first defendant while being taken away from the court on Monday was seen chanting revolution, it is time for us to do it,” Liman said.
Juxtaposing Sowore’s case with that of the case of Asari Dokubo who was denied bail by the supreme court , Liman said offences threatening national security “such as this” should be handled with caution.
He also asked the court to take judicial notice of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the indigenous people of biafra (IPOB), who jumped bail.
Femi Falana, counsel to the defendants, prayed the court to allow bail on grounds that the defendants have never been found guilty of committing any offence before.
He said the use of the word “revolution” is not a criminal offense. Quoting the supreme court, he defined revolution as “the overthrow of one class by the other”.
Falana further pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari also called for a revolution in 2003 and 2011 respectively after he lost the presidential election.
He argued that the first defendant(Sowore) has never called for a violent protest.
Addressing the second charge which bothered on insulting the president, the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said “under the current constitutional dispensation, no public officer in Nigeria is permitted to use the machinery of the state to settle scores with his opponent”
He said the constitution guarantees freedom of speech, which includes freedom to criticise and that government officials should be open to criticism.
Responding to the case of Dokubo raised by the opposition, Falana said Dokubo was not granted bail because he admitted to blowing pipes in the Niger Delta.
He assured the court that his clients would not cause any trouble if they are granted bail.
The case has been adjourned till November 6, 2019.