Why DSS Cannot Report Justice Taiwo To NJC

By Ikenga Chronicles September 29, 2019

Why DSS Cannot Report Justice Taiwo To NJC

— Femi Falana SAN

In The Nation newspaper edition of Saturday, September 28, 2019, one Mr. Akintunde 1 reported that the State Security Service (SSS) had conluded plans to report Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the federal high court to the National Judicial Council for granting bail to Mr. Omoyele Sowore who has been charged with a purported capital offence. The Nation claimed that according to an unnamed government source ”Sowore’s bail is likely to bring trouble for that judge. A report has been prepared to report him to NJC in view of the fact that, as far as this country, it is known that a person charged treasonable felony has no bail option. So, the security and intelligence community in the country is shocked by the judgement. And there is a consensus that the judgement should not only be appealed, but that the NJC should be petitioned about the conduct and abuse of power by the judge.”

I have since confirmed that the fictitious report is a figment of the fecund imagination of the writer, Mr Akuntunde 1. Hence, the report and the quotes therein were not credited to any named official of the SSS but to some anonymous sources. However, in a desperate bid to divert public attention from the contemptuous conduct of the SSS the federal government has hurriedly pressurised the federal high court to assign the case for the arraignment of Mr. Sowore. From the information at our disposal the report was designed by The Nation to blackmail and intimidate the Judges of the federal high with respect to the trial of Mr. Sowore.

I wish to state without any fear of contradiction, that the federal high court is competent to admit a person charged with a capital offence to bail by virtue of section 161 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. But in this case, Mr. Sowore has not been charged with a capital offence. Therefore, contrary to the highly misleading position of SSS and The Nation newspaper, treasonable felony is not a capital offence under section 41 of the Criminal Code. Even under the most brutal dictatorial regimes in Nigeria our courts did not hesitate to uphold the fundamental right of the victims of repression to personal liberty including those who were charged with treasonable felony.

Having regards to the facts and circumstances of this case, the SSS cannot complain against the handling of the case by Justice Taiwo who did not even entertain our application to quash the order for Mr. Sowore’s detention for 45 days. We had wanted to show that Mr. Sowore did not engage in any terrorist activity to warrant his incarceration. But the order for the 45-day detention of Mr. Sowore was allowed to expire by effluxion of time. Since Mr. Sowore was eventually not charged with terrorism it means that the order to detain him for 45 days was obtained by fraud and misrepresentation of facts on the part of the SSS.

In urging Nigerians to disregard the dubious report it ought to be pointed out that Justice Taiwo has not been accused of any act of judicial misconduct in ordering the conditional release of Mr. Sowore from unlawful custody. After all, it was the SSS counsel, Mr. Godwin Agbadua who withrew his fresh motion ex parte motion for an order to further detain him for 20 days. Consequently, Justice Taiwo granted our application for Mr. Sowore’s release but made it conditional as his Lordship took judicial notice of the 3-count charge of insulting President Buhari, money laundering and treasonable felony pending against him in the court. To that extent, the National Judicial Council has no power to sanction a judicial officer for exercising his/her discretion judicially and judicially in an application for the bail of a citizen. In other words, since the NJC is not an appellate court it cannot review the order for the conditional release of Mr. Sowore from illegal custody.

Finally, instead of joining the global campaign for the release of Mr. Sowore from illegal custody as ordered by the federal high court Mr. Akintunde 1 of The Nation newspaper has colluded with the forces of reaction to intimidate the Judiciary. But it is a mission that is bound to fail as no dictator has ever suceeded in cowing the courts and the Nigerian people to submission.